The term DNA is often articulated by companies when discussing core values. Anne Larilahti, Finnair’s Vice President recently commented ‘DNA is the code that defines what you are. And if you take that into the corporate environment then that is the articles of association.’ Finnair, included the following provision into article (2) of their articles of association.
‘The company may also engage in, or support, activities that are aimed at ensuring the acceptability, and thereby the long-term profitability, of its business by increasing the positive effects and reducing the negative effects of its business on the environment and society.’
In the UK, Anglian Water in 2019 became the first water company to embed public interest polices, by amending its articles. Chief Executive Peter Simpson said, ‘in conjunction with our shareholders, we have approved a fundamental change to our company Articles of Association, legally enshrining public interest within the constitutional make up of our business’.
The corporate world is recognising the need to use the articles of association to embed policy: the articles are the only legally binding company document that defines the company’s decision-making process and purpose. Conversely, policy documents are not legally binding on the company, its members, or its stakeholders.