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Articles - February 2014
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

0214 REBOOTBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

A promising merger. In 2012 Riverside Company, a private equity firm based in Cleveland, purchased EthicsPoint, a Lake Oswego ethics-reporting business, and merged the company with three similar enterprises: ELT, Global Compliance and PolicyTech. Keeping the businesses headquartered in Oregon, the new entity rebranded as NAVEX Global. The firm now ranks as one of Oregon’s largest software companies, providing clients with governance, risk and compliance solutions. These include hotline reporting, automated policy management and third-party risk management. In plain English, NAVEX Global helps companies protect their brands, monitor employee behavior and ensure compliance with government regulations. Says Shanti Atkins, president and chief strategy officer of NAVEX Global: “We help protect people, reputations and bottom lines.”

Reputation management. The company’s growth is fueled in part by changes in the way companies do business. According to Interbrand, a global branding consultant, 95% of an average company’s worth was tied up in physical assets in 1970. Today 75% of the average company’s worth is intangible. That’s where NAVEX comes in — the firm provides solutions that enables companies to protect those assets. “We’re seeing more and more boards and C-level executives identify the need to protect the intangible asset of their reputation through our solutions and products,” Atkins says. She cites as an example the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill, where BP was excoriated for an explosion that actually occurred aboard a third-party contractor, Deepwater Horizon. With products like NAVEX’s new third-party risk management staffing solution, a company can organize its supply chain and ensure the suppliers follow a certain code of conduct, mitigating risks for the contracting organization.

Profiting as one. A powerhouse in the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) industry, NAVEX serves more than 8,500 clients representing 40 million employees worldwide. Clients range from small, private businesses to Fortune 500 companies, and the firm employs 449 people worldwide, 169 in Oregon. This past year, the company opened an office in London to better serve its clientele in the European Union, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 2013 NAVEX earned annual revenues of approximately $100 million and aims to double that in a few years.

A prosperous future. Riverside Company will sell NAVEX Global “when it makes the most sense,” Atkins says. In the meantime, NAVEX Global plans to acquire more companies that align with its vision. The company also hopes to profit by “cross-selling” its software to current clients, a growing number of which view ethics and compliance programs as a core business practice. “We are in an era where we are migrating from thinking about ethics and compliance programs and departments as a cost center, but central to business value,” says Atkins. An expanding company taps into an expanding market: It’s a time-honored strategy NAVEX hopes will yield big dividends. 

Clarification:  This article has been altered to reflect the following clarifications. Riverside did not rebrand NAVEX Global; the leadership of the newly formed entity rebranded as NAVEX Global. NAVEX Global does not act as "a kind of security guard;" instead, the company's software enables companies to protect their tangible and intangible assets.

 

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Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

In this issue, we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not just about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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