Chairman of the Future: Diversity at the Top

By Helen Pitcher OBE, IDP-C, President of INSEAD Directors Network, Experienced Chairman, NED and Board Committee Chair

The sustainability of companies and businesses to contribute and benefit all of their stakeholders, is increasingly at the forefront of the minds of Politicians, Regulators, Society Pressure groups and Individuals.

Business of the future

The journey of Boards over the last 10 years towards greater diversity has seen a significant shift and we are starting to see the benefits of these more diverse Boards performing effectively in response to a wide range of challenges.  However, we also need to focus more fully on the diversity drive for the Chairman role, both to reflect these recent diversity gains on our Boards and to provide Leadership and a catalyst for increased change and action from our Boards.  It is time to stop the wastage of talent and get on with the job of facilitating women to achieve the top roles in our companies, we cannot afford to ignore 40% of the potential candidates.

The skills of chairman

The research from INSEAD suggests that there is very slow progress in this area, in the UK for example, if we do nothing, it will take until 2027 to achieve 20% of women as Chairman of our Boards (INSEAD Research by Professor Stanislav Shekshnia).  We need to accelerate the pace of change and ‘skip’ a male generation to drive the appointment of female Chairman more quickly and beyond that 20%.

As you look at the skills and expertise required to be an effective Chairman- the evidence for what makes an effective Chairman is very clear.  The skills that emerge as critical and defining are; an ability to influence others without dominating, having an engaged vision of the future, strong emotional intelligence and coaching skills. These Behavioural-Emotional skills are to the fore are with, the ability to build trust upon which people can rely.

“To be effective, Chairman must recognize that they are not commanders but facilitators. Their role is to create the conditions under which the Board can have productive group discussions. They should recognize that they are not first among equals. They are just the person responsible for making everyone on their board a good director.” (Professor Stanislav Shekshnia INSEAD-Leading from The Chair Programme).

Why do we need to accelerate the pace of change?

Without intervention the progress to women in the Chairman role is too slow; the target should be to get to 35% by 2025 and 50% by 2027.  While the general diversity debate has moved on, advancements towards Women Chairman are pitiful, with still too many active resistors, Headhunters, Chairman, Nominations Committees, and perpetuating stereotypes that you need 10 years Board experience to be considered.

More Women in the Chairman role can help rebuild the trust in our companies and build businesses that deliver business performance combined with social and environmental benefits, leading to greater sustainability in our society.  The social case for women Chairman is clear, ranging from societal benefits, to greater empowerment and inclusion of women, visible role models, as well as access to a broader talent pool and range of diverse skills.

There is a growing and enthusiastic enclave of advocates for the acceleration of progression of Women into the Chairman role across many influential groups, however there is still an inertia of action.  Consequently, in the UK we have started the ‘Diversity at the Top’ initiative as an advocacy group to focus on this Female Chairman issue.

Blockers to progress

Women themselves will also need to bolster their resolve, expressing the ambition to be Chairman and reducing their self-limiting belief that it is beyond their grasp.  They need to overcome the mind-set which causes them to seek to ‘over-qualify’ and be ‘over-capable’ before targeting themselves at the role.

Educating Nominations Committee members in how to formulate gender neutral job and person specifications is key, along with conducting a detailed skills audit of the Board with Diversity as a core dimension. This is best practice, but not universally applied.

Also, a shift needs to be made in the Recruitment-Development processes, moving from a stereotypical view of the Chairman role profile, towards a more creative resourcing, on-boarding and mentoring support process developing more appropriate role models.

There needs to be more active sponsorship and development of women at the Board level to engage with development for the Chairman role.  This needs to go beyond the typical Big Four Information sessions on Audit/Risk/Cyber/Governance, into a more creative development framework of Board level development. This will require women to step beyond the existing Board for their development, recognising that many Boards already have limited time allocated to develop knowledge and the interpersonal dynamics within the Boardroom.

We need to increase our ambition and pace of change; it is time to drive practical and direct action to accelerate the acquisition of more female Chairman right across our companies.

It is time to push through this current psychological log jam and actively discuss the facilitative and revolutionary evolution to remove this limiting mental model and stereotype of a Chairman.  There will need to be a concerted effort from Headhunters, Chairman, the media and the other wide range of interested groups to draw on available mentors and sponsors as well as to challenge thinking and make this happen.

As a practical step in the UK the ‘Diversity at the Top Initiative’ gathered together a group of likeminded people from a range of backgrounds who are committed to increasing the number of Female Chairman, as an exemplar of Board performance and a beacon for the diversity of their Executive pipelines.  This group has focused on ‘The Future of Woman Chairman’, over a series of meetings and discussions, and provided a spotlight on the issues and more importantly the potential solutions to this logjam.

A summary of their deliberations and Action Plan, identifying the most important areas to highlight to ‘move the dial’ can be accessed at here.

 

 

Four Winners of the Inaugural IDN Award for prestigious board positions

October 16, 2020

Four Winners of the Inaugural IDN Award 2020 for prestigious board positions

The INSEAD Directors Network (IDN) is an official Global Alumni Club, whose mission is to foster excellent corporate governance through networking, communication and self-improvement.

Our more than 1500 Alumni work on boards around the world, sharing knowledge and managing businesses across all industrial sectors. They also provide invaluable support for Not-for-Profit organisations.

We want to celebrate this success by recognising some of the most prestigious mandates that have been given to IDN Member.

The winners were selected from the 230 mandates, shared via the quarterly IDN Board Position Announcements*.

Selections were based on the size and and importance of the organisations they represented, their global relationships and the position at the board, in combination with pursuit of  INSEADs mission ‘Force for Good’. Four winners were selected, which all have an outstanding track record and have demonstrated the highest levels of integrity.

The winners are:

Not-for-Profit Category

 

Carole Ackermann

 IDP 8 2015

Chair

École hôtelière de Lausanne

 

Gbenga Oyebode

 IDP 6 2014

Trustee

Ford Foundation

 

For-Profit Category

 

Anita Hauser

 IDP 5 2014

Board Member

Roche Holdings AG

 

Denise Koopmans

 IDP 10 2015

Board Member

Swiss Post

 

A task force including four members of the IDN Board worked to define the selection critieria and examined the candidates. Selection criteria included: position shared via the IDN quarterly Board Position, candidate holding INSEAD Directors Program Certification IDP-C, excluding current IDN board members, the size and importance of organisation, pursuit of INSEADs mission ‘Force for Good’. Verifications were made by INSEADs Corporate Governance Centre and the winners were unanimously supported by the full IDN Board.

The awards was presented at INSEAD Directors Network 2020 Annual General Management Meeting.

 We congratulate the winners. They reflect well on IDP, INSEAD and IDN and we can be proud of their achievements.

 

On behalf of the IDN Board,

The Award Task Force Members,
Jeff Scott, Hagen Schweinitz, Thomas Seale and Helen Wiseman.

*Ref. Latest of the quarterly IDN Board Position Announcements Sep 7, 2020.

55 additional board appointments for INSEAD Directors Network members

Members Board & Corporate Governance Positions Announcement 2Q – 2020 

INSEAD’s International Director Network, IDNis proudly sharing the recent appointments of board and corporate governance positions of our members, truly recognising our members and the strength of our IDN network.

IDN members have been appointed to 55 new board positions in 22 countries, summing up to 293 position announcements since 2017.

As a member of IDN, the network of INSEAD International Board Directors, (full membership is open to all INSEAD Alumni with appropriate directorship experience and is automatic for Certified Directors (IDP-C) from INSEAD’s International Directors Program (IDP)), you can be truly proud of your network!

You will find the IDN members with new board positions below.  Why don’t you help share our network’s achievement via Linkedin, as well as also position yourself and your membership of a vibrant network via this LinkedIn post.

And take the time to connect with your fellow IDN members at LinkedIn and expand your board contacts by clicking their names below and connecting with them!

To date, IDP has been completed by 1,302 participants, with 986 certified IDP-C/ IDBP-C directors, and our International Board Network IDN of INSEAD Alumni includes more than 1,475 members.

IDN works closely with INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre, which undertakes cutting-edge research and teaching tailored to the needs of boards and international directors.  The Centre fosters a global dialogue on the challenges of corporate governance and leadership in an international context.

INSEAD Directors’ Network – Members New Board & Corporate Governance Positions

IDN members – Certified IDP-C Board Directors

Céline Abecassis-Moedas – June 2020 – Non-executive Director at Vista Alegre Atlantis (Listed, HQ Portugal)
Carole Ackermann – April & June 2020 – Non-Executive Director at BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA (Private, HQ Switzerland),  Chairman at École hôtelière de Lausanne( Private, HQ Switzerland)
Xavier Bedoret – May 2020 – Independent Expert Member of the Audit Committee at Radio & Television Belge (Public Sector – Brussels)
Stefan Buser –June 2020 – Board member at Netrics AG (Private, HQ Switzerland)
Elisabetta Cugnasca – March and April 2020 – Board, Management Controlling Committee & Supervisory Body member at IW Bank (Private, HQ Italy), Board member of “Be Shaping The Future DigiTech Solution” (Private, HQ Italy)
Lale Develioglu – April 2020 – Independent Board Director at Aksa Akrilik (Listed, HQ Turkey)
Yves Elsen – April 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Ardagh Group S.A. (NYSEC Listed, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg)
Liselotte Engstam – June 2020 – Board Member at Institute for Management of Innovation & Technology (Foundation, HQ Sweden)
Ozgen Etker Simons – January 2020 – Non-Executive Board Member at Lake Geneva Investment Partners (HQ Switzerland)
Gerry Fitzpatrick –May 2020 – Independent Non-executive Director, Zurich Life Assurance PLC, Young Social Innovators Ireland
Barbara Frohn – May 2020 – Chair of the Supervisory Board at Citigroup Global Markets Europe AG (HQ Germany)
Daniel Frutig-Meier – May & June 2020 – Member & Delegate of the Board at Lerch AG – Winterthur/Switzerland  (Private, HQ Switzerland), Vice Chairman of the Board at Arviem AG – Baar/Zug (Private) and Board member at Misanto AG (Private)
Rutger Groot – March 2020 – Supervisory Board Member at Netherlands Africa Business Council
David Haglund – June 2020 – Non-Executive Board Director at Aramex (Listed, HQ UAE)
Denise Koopmans – August 2020 – Member Supervisory Board, Chair Remuneration Committee, Royal BAM Group NV (listed, HQ the Netherlands)
Joachim Kuske – April 2020 – Board Member at Luxembourg Director Institute (ILA) (NGO, HQ Luxembourg)
Karen Loon – January 2020 – Vice-Chair and Singapore Councillor at Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand Singapore Council (NGO Professional Body, HQ Singapore)
Bert Meerstadt – June 2020 – Chairman of Supervisory Board at CB Logistics (Private, HQ Netherlands)
Bruno Mercier – June 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Bluemoon Holdings (Private, Cayman Islands)
Dominic Nixon – December 2019 – Chairman, Board of Governors at Tanglin Trust School (Private Education Sector, Singapore)
Gbenga Oyebode– November 2019 & March 2020 – Board of Trustees Member at Ford Foundation (Not-for-profit, HQ USA), Board of Trustees Member at The Africa Center (Not-for-profit, HQ USA), Non-executive Director at Lafarge Africa PLC (Public, HQ Nigeria)
Monica Porfilio – October 2019 – Non-Executive Board Director at Nature Investments S.àr.l.
Karl Reynders – February 2020 –Non-Executive Director at ELBA NV (PE-owned, HQ Belgium), Board Member at Indigo B Professional Services Pte Ltd (Private, HQ Singapore)
Thomas Seale – October 2019 & June 2020 – Non-executive Director at Raymond James SICAV (Luxembourg), Non-executive Director at LFP Opportunities SICAV (Luxembourg), Non-executive Director at Silver Holdings S.A. (Luxembourg)
Oern Stuge – March and June 2020 –  Chairman at  Neo Medical SA (Private, HQ Switzerland), Board of Directors at Median Technologies SAS (Listed, HQ France)
Aude Thibaut de Maisieres – May 2020 – Non Executive Director at Solvay (Listed, HQ Brussels)
Doris Tomanek – April 2020 – Member of Supervisory Board at AO Unicredit Bank, Chairwoman of Remuneration and Nomination Committee at UniCredit Bank Russia (Private, HQ Russia)
Bas van Buijtenen – April 2020 – Non-Executive Director and Member of the Nomination/Remuneration Committee at Microphyt, France (VC owned, HQ France), Non-executive Board Member at ABC Transfer (Private, HQ France)
Kees van der Vleuten – April, June & July 2020 – Member of the Board of Advisors at MAS Services
(Private, HQ Netherlands), Member of the Board of Advisors at Rahma Foundation (HQ Netherlands), Member of the Board of Advisors at Connecting Works, Member of the Board of Advisors at Worldlife Foundation
Till Vestring – July 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Delaware Pro (Private, HQ Belgium)
Helen Wiseman – April 2020 – Independent Non-executive Director at Elixinol Global Limited (Listed, HQ Australia)

IDN Members – Board Directors

Jeroen Cammeraat – March 2020 – Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Plasmacure BV, Netherlands (Private, HQ Netherlands)
Susanne Hannestad – March 2020, Non-Executive Board Director at Monty Mobile (Private, HQ London UK)
Gautam Khurana – February 2020 – Executive Director at Precious Shipping Public Company Limited (HQ Thailand)
Martin McCourt – May 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Sierra Wireless (Nasdaq: SWIR, HQ Vancouver Canada)
Robin Pho – February and April 2020, Non-Executive Board Member, Forum for the Future Asia (NGO, Singapore, HQ in the UK), Non-Executive Board Member at Family Business Network Asia (NPO, Singapore)
Joshua C K Siow – February 2020 – Non-Executive Independent Board Director at Pico (Public Company Limited, Stock Exchange of Thailand, HQ Thailand)
Jim Strang – May 2020 – Chairman of the Board at Hg Capital Trust PLC (Listed, HQ UK)
Remon Veraart – March 2020 – Supervisory Board Member at Euramax BV (Private, HQ Netherlands)

Previous announcements and more information

Previous board position announcements by shared by IDN;
March 2020 October 2019 July 2019  February 2019  November 2018 July 2018 April 2018  January 2018   October 2017

 

For more information about: 

INSEAD International Directors’ Network: https://blogs.insead.edu/idpn-globalclub

INSEADs Corporate Governance Programmes: https://www.insead.edu/executive-education/corporate-governance

For members of IDN, please ensure that you share your new appointments via survey shared to you vi mail, any queries contact [email protected]

For head hunters interested in finding international board members focused on staying up to date with latest board and governance insights, please contact IDN President, Helen Pitcher OBE, at [email protected]

For organisations interested in partnering with IDN, please contact IDN President, Helen Pitcher OBE, at [email protected]

On Behalf of the INSEAD International Directors’ Network Board,


Helen Wiseman, 
IDP-C, IDN & NAA Australia Board Member,
NED at multiple companies
www.linkedin.com/in/helenwiseman
[email protected]

What makes an Effective Chair?

by Mary Francia, INSEAD IDN’s ambassador for the Americas and host of the referenced Chairmen event. 

I was thrilled to join fellow alumni last month in San Francisco for the opening of the INSEAD San Francisco Hub for Business Innovation. We had the privilege to inaugurate the Hub with the first Masterclass, featuring Professor Stanislav Shekshnia, co-director of the program ‘Leading from the Chair’ and author of  Leading the Board, followed by the panel ‘How to Be a Good Board Chair’, presented to an audience of directors, shareholders, CEOs, chairs and executives.

The discussion examined a variety of board practices, comparing European and American boards in the public and private sectors, in family firms, technology companies and startups, and looking at how types of board structures and duties can vary due to cultural differences. Below you’ll find highlights of our fantastic exchange between Stanislav Shekshnia, Dominique Trempont and Tommaso Trionfi – each of them experienced chairpeople of public and private companies – on what board chairs do, how they do it and what makes an effective chair.

What is the No. 1 challenge of board chairs?

Managing a “difficult” board member, where a problematic board member is seen as domineering, makes too much noise, too much room or does not listen. The interesting finding, however, was that a silent board member is actually the hardest challenge: how do you get a silent board member to contribute?

Who does the chair work for?

A chair leads the board and represents it in its relationship with shareholders and the CEO. But who does the chair work for? The company? Shareholders? Interestingly, we heard that – with few differences – the overwhelming response in Europe today is that the company is the principal – much as we’ve seen in the trend for stakeholders vs. shareholders.

What defines culture in a board?

Interestingly enough, it is not nationality or the country! Instead, in Europe it’s the ownership structure, the company lifecycle and the size of the board that defines cultural differences in boards.

The concept of ‘Empty Head’.

“Not knowing much about the industry of the board you chair” is a theme we carried from the class to the panel with Dominic Trempont and Tomasso Trionfi, and even beyond it via a e-mail discussion. If we agreed on the role of the chair, would it be better not to have an opinion?  Should we pursue a chair position in an industry that we do not belong to? Would it free us to focus more on our role?

So, what is the role of the chair?

It’s about enablement, and the board is not a team! Enable leadership. A chair must enable a board to work effectively as a team and make the collective decisions required – but that doesn’t mean a chair is there to make a team out of the board.

Who owns the materials and the concept of the ‘0 – 30 – 50 – 20 Rule’.

Listening to presentations in a board meeting takes up a lot of time – sometimes as much as 70% of a meeting. How does this encourage directors to prepare on a subject that they will listen to repeatedly or often in a meeting? In a useful board meeting the chair owns the materials and drives the 0-30-50-20 Rule – in which there are zero presentations! Guess what the other percentages are that drive aproductive conversation?  This is a critical insight as usually, material presented to a board is structured to get it to approve a proposal. This approach should incorporate the most valuable information for decision making.

What is the right way of working with the chair on a board?

The type of relationship with a CEO – and what defines it – is important. Should it be collaborative? One based on mentoring? An advisory capacity? We discussed how the chair role in a private board might differ from other institutions, and the outcome identified the role being driven by two scenarios:

1) The chair is the major shareholder and decision reside with that person.

2) The mix of shareholder ownership is dispersed and decisions are made by the board. The chair, in this case, enables conversations and effectiveness is vital, regardless of their percentage of ownership representation in the board.

The value of the chair in a technology company

The role of the chair is often fundamental to the core of the company DNA.  The Chair is the institutional memory of the company,safeguardingits mission and its culture. He or she can not be an “empty head.”

The challenges of the board chair at a startup

Very common or systematic, the role of the chair and CEO is often combined in startups. The recommendation is that when a board is created, the roles are split. The duties and legal exposure of a CEO and chair are different in the early stages of the company, and impact the thresholds from growth to failures – who the company serves, who it needs to protect and what it is liable for?

What makes a board effective?

Having a clear understanding of the board’s needs and a plan towards achieving them. For example:

  • What critical competencies the board should have and a process to measure against them.
  • The right diversity in the boardroom to enable fruitful discussions and capture a 360-degree view when evaluating opportunities and risk.

 

Diversity is not the only gender: an effective chair provides a nomination committee with a clear understanding of what kind of diversity they want to bring to a board.

In our conversation about the challenges of rebuilding a board towards gender diversity, a key challenge is the recruitment of female candidates, especially in California, where regulations exist that drive quotas for female participation. Our panel delivered a key message to nomination committees: change their view that a female CEO needs to be a qualified candidate, and be open to candidates in other C-level roles as well as partners in consulting firms. They see the business and have larger exposure. And to the corporations: build a larger pool of qualified female leaders with succession planning.

The critical attribute of an effective chair

What makes an effective CEO does not help as a chair. It was interesting that on American corporate boards with ‘one-tier’ structures in which the CEO/chair role is combined, there is often a lead director with a strong preference towards independent directors.

To conclude, this was such a vibrant discussion and everyone taking part learned so much from the lessons shared by the panel. Clearly, there are many more insights on this subject to unearth! Our next piece of research, capturing the practices of chairs across the Americas, commenced last month, and I’m excited to be involved in the program, looking forward to sharing and capturing its insights on this crucial topic with our clients.

by Mary Francia

Mary Francia she is INSEAD IDN’s ambassador for the Americas, and she engages the alumni on subjects of governance.  Mary was the host for the above referenced Chairman event.  She is a Partner in the Board Practice of Odgers Berndtson based in their Atlanta office helping boards with composition strategy and succession planning.