The paperless boardroom: A reflection of MN’s commitment to sustainability
MN is a pension administration and investment management company with 60 years’ experience creating comprehensible and affordable pension schemes. The company is a large pension player, with more than 1,000 dedicated employees working in the Netherlands and the U.K. The company manages about 90 billion euros in assets and administers the pensions of 2 million employees in the Netherlands.
Stan Steeghs is MN’s Corporate Secretary and as such is responsible for the company’s 25 annual board meetings and numerous supervisory board meetings. In 2012, the company moved their headquarters from Rijswijk, a suburb outside of The Hague, to the centre of the city. The new location is a reflection of MN’s commitment to sustainability and transparency: an open floor solution features a vine-covered wall that runs throughout all floors of the office, and the environment is now virtually paperless.
With the move to a new location, MN decided that their goal to become more paperless should start at the top: the company’s board level. The move to digital would also enable more information sharing, better security and greater flexibility. It would also add further value to their continuous commitment to innovation.
From a flexibility perspective, paper materials required manual processes that consumed the resources of MN’s secretariat staff in laborious tasks from printing, to stapling, to binding books, that were often hundreds of pages in length. Once produced, board materials were then couriered—a process that was costly, time-consuming and not necessarily secure.
According to Steeghs, “Processes surrounding the governance of our boards lagged behind the rest of the company. We were stuck in an antiquated approach that was a hindrance to us on the secretariat side, and a burden to board executives, who were required to carry heavy paper-based reports.”
To live up to its own commitment to sustainability and innovation, MN sought to find a solution for the board that would meet the goals of a paperless office environment, save time and resources, and offer a more portable option than paper board packs.
Steeghs researched a number of providers and mapped them against a list of desired functionalities but ultimately decided on the Diligent Boards™ solution. What tipped the scales beyond MN’s sustainability goals? “There were two main reasons. Diligent beat other providers in security, which is a very important issue for us as pension administrators,” noted Steeghs. “And their functionality was better. We wanted an approach that was intuitive. One that would mirror our own processes for handling reports without the associated hassles.” Specifically, the company sought functionality that mimicked paper reports—features like adding “sticky notes” and highlighting features to annotate reports.
To date, MN now uses the Diligent Boards solution for all of its board and subsidiary meetings with a total of 40 users. The approach has contributed to the company’s sustainability goal of reducing paper usage and they expect to see a decrease in the amount of paper used each year.
Like all Diligent customers, MN enjoys 24/7 support and extensive training. But, as Steeghs points out, the portal is so intuitive, training needs are minimal. “Although we were offered support, most of our board members just picked it up and started using the iPad application. It’s that easy.” Ultimately, for MN, the transition to Diligent was seamless.
Processes surrounding the governance of our boards lagged behind the rest of the company.
We were stuck in an antiquated approach that was a hindrance to us on the secretariat side, and a burden to board executives, who were required to carry heavy paperbased reports.