FT’s Great Board Reboot: Is it time for a new agenda?

In the wake of corporate scandals, a global pandemic and an uncertain economic and social recovery, all eyes are firmly on the board. Now new global research among board directors and international experts, including Women on Boards, reveals how they are embracing an evolution in their role and responsibilities.

The FT’s Great Board Reboot report on the boardroom, and what is changing, is based on a survey of 626 respondents conducted in March 2021. All respondents currently sit on the board of at least one company.

It also includes interviews with leading experts including Women on Boards’s Co-founder Ruth Medd.

The report found that beyond regulation and compliance, board members must be able to detect risk and opportunity like never before.

In looking at what it takes to build better boards, the report has found amid greater accountability and governance reforms, boards have to be more flexible, more agile and more responsive. 

“Boards have to show the sort of leadership that pulls the best of their organisations’ people and thinking into play,” says John Elkington, who has served on more than 70 boards and advisory boards. 

“The best ones do exactly that — they are made up of people who are curious and committed – and who understand that the world changes, often in unexpected ways.” 

In looking at diversity,  the report showed one aspect many experts agree on is that effectiveness comes from the construction of a well-balanced board. But findings show while progress has been made, many believe there is still a long way to go to enable fair representation.

Nearly half of respondents (45 per cent) agree that their boards have been successful in appointing members from a wide variety of professional and personal backgrounds, but 40 per cent say their boards need much greater diversity among their members.

When it comes to gender, 40 per cent said greater gender diversity of boards improves performance. 

Quoted in the report, Ruth Medd some companies are more proactive than others in diversifying their boards.

“One of the barriers to diversity on boards is the way that directors are recruited. Many board roles are still filled through networks of board directors rather than through professional searches and recruitment processes.” 

The report also found that as the role of the board director is undergoing profound change, individual and collective expectations are rising. 

“The way that directors are recruited, trained and developed is being reshaped. And the composition of the board and the breadth of its expertise is under intense scrutiny,” the report says.

Read the full report HERE

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