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Eight Traps of Boardroom Diversity

Jul 23, 2012

There are myths and vested interests in the movement towards boardroom diversity now underway in several countries. In this first article, author Dr. Richard Leblanc considers the “traps” and embedded myths. The main points listed are below- follow to the article for his expanded thoughts on each.

1. The “Defining diversity downward” trap

2. The “Business case” trap

3. The “Be careful” trap

4. The “Entrenchment” trap

5. The “We want a CEO” trap

6. The “It’s whom you know” trap

7. The “Prior experience” trap

8. The “Pipeline” or “Shallow pool” trap

 

His second article will explore his suggested solutions for the above points. Full article here.

Whack ‘em with a board!

Jul 11, 2012

Lucy Marcus' article on board governance and purpose brought to light some important issues, such as the fact that the evolving boardroom requires every board member be a great leader, from the moment we are appointed to the day we step down.

Ultimately "organizations suffer greatly when independent board members don’t ask hard questions, and refuse to hold executives accountable for not just the profit margins but also the ethics of the company. A complacent board jeopardizes a company’s future. As board members, we should be assessed on how well we fulfill what I call our “grounding and stargazing” responsibilities: making sure the company manages its risks prudently and operates at all times  in a responsible, legal, and ethical manner, while at the same time making sure it is ready and able to respond shrewdly to future challenges."

For the full article, continue here.

Fulfilling the Promise with More Women on Corporate Boards

Jul 3, 2012

The Financial Women's Association recently released a new publication: "Fulfilling the Promise: How More Women on Corporate Boards Would Make America and American Companies More Competitive". The goal of the publication and organization is to see more women elected to corporate boards. The business case for this goal is that "successful businesses of the future will be those that attract, retain, and grow talent- which requires that more women have the opportunity to succeed at all levels of the company, including the board. If American companies fail to meet the career requirements of high-performing women, they will fall behind global competitors that do".

The report touches on some important statistics: "in 1980, no woman was CEO of a Fortune 100 company; in 2001, 11% of Fortune 100 board positions were held by women. But very little has changed over the past decade. The percentage of women on all U.S. corporate boards has been stuck in the 12.1% to 12.3% range; in Fortune 500 companies it is only slightly better, in the 15% to 16% range. On current estimates, the percentage of women on boards will never even begin to approach their percentage in the population and labor force."

To read the full article, click here.

20 Questions Directors Should Ask About Strategy

Jun 26, 2012

The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants recently came out with a series of publications on corporate governance, targeted primarily at non-profit boards and directors. There are a number of useful guidelines in the publications and here at WATSON we will be covering some of the topics presented.

The first publication we will look at is “20 Questions Directors Should Ask About Strategy”. The full content of the publication can be viewed online here.

While strategy is innately tied very closely to a board’s work, the degree to which the board is responsible for creation and implementation of the strategy varies, particularly with differences seen among for-profit and not-for-profit boards. The board however, is ultimately responsible for guiding the company’s direction and therefore the board members need to be:

  • engaged in the planning process
  • prepared to consider major decisions in a strategic context
  • able to address inherent risks, offer advice, and influence the direction if necessary.

From a high level perspective, the company’s strategy should be future-oriented, take into consideration internal and external implications and stakeholders, contain an appropriate level and focus of analysis, focus on tangible action plans, detail a robust financial model, and undergo risk and stress testing. 

Within the content of the strategy, there are four key levels, with distinct guiding points to address during board discussions:

1. Strategic Vision and Goals

  • What is the future context for the industry and the company?
  • Where will the company compete and why?
  • What are the overall strategic goals, given the above context and decisions?

2. Corporate Strategy

  • Are any of the industries in which the company operates likely to restructure? What is driving the restructuring?
  • What role should the company play in industry restructuring?
  • Considering a portfolio of businesses held, how is the parent company adding value?
  • Is the proposed corporate strategy consistent with the role and capabilities of the parent?

3. Competitive Strategy

  • How does the proposed strategy advance the company toward its goals?
  • How does the new strategy affect the skill and resource requirements, and the downside and upside risks?

4. Functional Strategies

  • What are the functional strategies that are instrumental to success and what are the associated risks?
  • How has the strategy incorporated corporate social responsibilities (including: shareholder value, environmental impact, community and economic development, brand and corporate reputation, employee impact, corporate competitiveness)?

Dream of Being a Director? Here's How Other Women Do It.

May 15, 2012

Women on corporate boards - Leah Eichler's take on how to land a seat. Skills and networking are key.

Let’s talk about women and corporate boards. For starters, women who aspire to reach to upper echelons of corporate power need to start asking how they can achieve that goal. And women who are already sitting at the board table need to illuminate how they were able to get that far.

Lifting the veil on what it takes to rise to the board level will help women understand how to tailor their career choices to make the climb.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

B.C. Health Care On The Cutting Edge Of Big Data

May 7, 2012

Great article by Miro Cernetig on living in the Big Data Age and the important role British Columbia is playing in this emerging field. This topic is also the centre of  The Data Effect, being held on June 5th at the Westin Bayshore. For more information and to register for the event, visit http://www.thedataeffect.org/

Human beings are creating and storing information in numbers now best grasped in astronomical terms. If all the bits and bytes of data created last year were put on CDs, the stack would stretch from the Earth to the moon and back — and then some.

So much data are being created — from our health records, those sensors in our smartphones and Nike sneakers, not to mention Facebook and YouTube accounts — it is now described with a new word. The zettabyte. (No, it’s not in your spellcheck yet).

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Why CEOs Shouldn't 'Do' Compliance

May 4, 2012

Interesting read on shifting the mindset of leadership from “governance, risk and compliance” to “governance, culture and leadership”, resulting in concrete behavioural changes that can be maintained by an organization.

How would a global company build a big enough bureaucracy to ensure that all 100,000 employees in its operating companies worldwide follow each and every law and regulation?  Even further, how could the CEO of that company be assured that his or her people were acting according to the even higher standard of behavior demanded by its stakeholder community?

The answer?  They can’t. Even if this company were 99.9 percent successful in its compliance efforts, that’s still 100 instances of non-compliance every day.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Chesapeake's McClendon To Relinquish Chairman Position Following Loan Controversy, Remain CEO

May 3, 2012

Interesting news in support of the corporate governance trend to split up the Chairman and CEO roles.

Chesapeake Energy founder Aubrey McClendon was stripped of his chairmanship role Tuesday following shareholder complaints that his personal business interests could conflict with those of the company he runs.

McClendon will remain CEO. The company's board said it's searching for an independent chairman.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

2012 Marks 18 Years For The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre & The Appointment Of A New Executive Director At The Helm

Apr 30, 2012

A great story of leadership transition in one of Vancouver's most important settings for dialogue on the necessary topic of anti-racism teaching via innovative curatorial work. The founders of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre should beam with pride on the renewal here from the noble work of Frieda Miller to the new leadership of Nina Krieger.

Frieda Miller, who has been with the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre since its founding in 1994, is retiring after six years as Executive Director. The Centre’s exhibits and education programs, which reach more than 15,000 students each year, place it among the most respected Holocaust centres in North America.

Miller has been responsible for much of the dynamic programming at the VHEC in recent years. Many will remember the impressive productions of the operas Brundibar and The Emperor of Atlantis. The Centre’s exhibit on view during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, More Than Just Games: Canada & the 1936 Olympics, achieved national acclaim and drew Canadians’ attention to the choices faced by athletes invited to participate in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Read the full article here.

Wal-Mart Recruits A Googler, And It's A Trend

Apr 26, 2012

Interesting article about board leadership reflecting your customer base and diversity - two issues that are top of mind for boards.

The news that Wal-Mart has invited Google VP Marissa Mayer to join its board of directors signals a trend. Fortune 500 boards are looking hard to recruit social media experts. And their quest is bringing a lot of women to the directors' table.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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