Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
I am just back from Washington, D.C., where I took part in a most enlightening conference. Themed "Closing the Gender Gap: Global Perspectives on Women in the Boardroom," the daylong program held on Thursday, Sep. 16, was filled with experts from the corporate, diplomatic and academic sectors from around the world — all of them influential in tracking trends in board diversity and even moving the trendline along for increased presence of women on boards.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Good things happen again for a past Directors & Boards author. Our congratulations to Dr. Curtis Crawford (pictured) on being selected to receive a special award at next month's annual conference of the National Association of Corporate Directors. He is being honored with the B. Kenneth West Lifetime Achievement Award. This award, named for an esteemed former NACD chairman, recognizes individuals who have been instrumental in bringing management, boards, and investors together to find common ground on issues of transparency, director independence, and corporate responsibility.
"Corporate directors are chosen from a pool of highly qualified people, and being selected as a shareholder representative is a very significant achievement that demonstrates that the director has cleared a high hurdle of competence. However, it is naive to assume that all directors are equally capable in every respect."While traditional boards might find it useful to maintain this polite fiction, all directors and boards are not equal. Maintaining this position is an excellent way to enforce a status quo that limits the board's performance."Although all directors are high achievers with equal legal responsibilities to serve, exercise duty of care, and act in good faith, they differ substantially in the kinds of value they can contribute to the board. Each director embodies differences in experience, background, interests, and tenure, which is desirable, considering that multiple talents are necessary for the board to execute its responsibility effectively."
Monday, September 6, 2010
On the day when the news is breaking that Mark Hurd will be joining Oracle as co-president, here is an interesting passage that I have just come across from the new book, "The HP Phenomenon" by Charles H. House and Raymond L. Price (Stanford University Press). Presented without further comment about the idiosyncratic and sometimes unfathomable C-suite personnel moves in the tech sector:
Three years is a long time in the Valley and in the high-tech world. It was, for example, only three years from the acme years of both John Young and Lew Platt that the HP board ended their careers. John Akers retired in disgrace from IBM three years after its high point in revenues under his leadership. DEC’s best two revenue and profitability years ever were in 1987 and 1988; Ken Olsen was fired three-and-a-half years later after winning international accolades for the 1987-1988 comeback. Ed McCracken at Silicon Graphics delivered 52% growth and 10% net profits — bests on both scores — as SGI attained $2 billion in 1994; three years later, he was fired. Rod Canion had many great Compaq years — 1989 saw 40% growth to $2.8 billion, two years before he was cast away when Compaq lost its way. Successor Eckhard Pfeiffer in 1997 delivered 30% growth in revenue (to $31 billion) and the highest profit on record (7.7%); 15 months later chairman Ben Rosen removed him. No CEO escapes the question, “What have you done for me lately?”Actually I do have one add-on comment: Perhaps no shareholder escapes the question, "What in tarnation is the board thinking . . . both in its firing — and hiring?"
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Now here is a smart move by Goldman Sachs to address its impaired reputation and strained shareholder relationships. The firm has hired Bess Joffe as vice president-governance, and she will join the firm's investor relations team starting on Oct. 4.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Approved by the SEC on Aug. 25, the proxy access rule, years on the drawing board, is now with us. Thus begins a new era in shareholder-board relations, and, perhaps, board composition.