With recent events, it's become evident that it's not solely M&A transactions in which shareholder activism has presented itself. And this new dynamic of activism is now permitting minority shareholders to set agendas for a number of corporations.

In this setting in which institutional investors are trading traditional support of management for aggressive or quiet support of shareholder activism, it's more important than ever for companies to be proactive in communicating the reasons for and benefits of a transaction or position.

"Boards must realize that they must keep the lines of communication open, and consider both the views of the activists and management," says Alfred Page, the National Leader of the Securities & Capital Markets Group of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. “The board's job is to make the right choice, not to favour one side or the other.”

Early and open communication to shareholders can prevent boards from being caught unaware by investor dissent later. But, it's not solely the large institutional shareholders who require attention.

"A good board will keep in mind the fact that even people who don't own many shares can raise important issues," says Alfred. “Corporations are coming around to the idea that what's important is the issue, not who's raising it.”

Also, putting in place a transparent decision-making process in place is crucial. As Alfred explains, “Boards must be prepared to give proper disclosure of their process and to ensure that what they are doing is demonstrably even-handed. The days of short corporate minutes containing only resolutions and decisions are over.”