Leadership

How's Your Board? New Study Exposes Governance Trends

By / Jan 15, 2013 (Hemera/Thinkstock)

A new survey from Deloitte and the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals finds that communication is becoming more important among board members.

According to a new study, boards are talking more. And that’s a good thing.

The study from Deloitte and the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals surfaces a number of other trends, including showings that suggest boards still have more to do on building diversity and getting a handle on technology. But the key takeaway is that boards are getting in more talk time.

“The report shows that board members are really working on enhancing their interactions with each other and with shareholders, which goes along with wider trends related to facility of communication,” Maureen Errity, the director of Deloitte’s Center for Corporate Governance, said in a statement. “There’s no longer the sense that boards operate behind closed doors.”

First up, a quick note: The study looked a trends in both corporate and nonprofit boards. Some important takeaways:

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What board members need: The most important values for board members, according to respondents? Knowledge of their industry, at 47 percent, which was far ahead of other options—including, among other things, C-level experience (32 percent), international business exposure (26 percent), and IT experience (19 percent).

Boards meeting more frequently: It appears boards have a lot to talk about these days: They’re meeting not only more often but for longer periods. In the financial industry in particular, frequent board meetings are common, with 53 percent of all financial services companies reporting that their boards meet more than 10 times per year.

Transparency gains importance: According to the study, 35 percent of boards have taken steps to encourage more transparent, open communication—an increase of 5 percent from the year prior.

Diversity still a challenge: Nearly 80 percent of respondents said  minorities or women comprised less than a quarter of their boards. Just 6 percent said their board had a level of minority members that topped 50 percent.

Social media a topic but not heavily used by directors: While most companies have a social media policy for employees, only four in 10 have discussed the usage of social media by employees or customers in the past year. More notably, just 8 percent of directors claim to have used social media sites associated with the organization during that period.

In case you’re curious, the full survey [PDF] offers more insights on these issues.

How do you see your own boards shaping up on these governance issues? Let us know in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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