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Time to Get Uncomfortable in the Boardroom


Time to Get Uncomfortable in the Boardroom

NACD Atlanta, February 14, 2018

Moderator Renee Glover, director, Fannie Mae, Enterprise Community Partners, and NACD Atlanta, and panelists Brenda Gaines, director, Tenet Healthcare, Southern Company Gas and NACD, and Rochelle Campbell, manager, Board Recruitment Services, NACD, shared their opinions and perspectives at NACD Atlanta’s recent program, “Time to Get Uncomfortable in the Boardroom”. The discussion touched on sometimes controversial social, environmental and governance issues, and the need for diversity in the boardroom.

According to Ms. Campbell, boards are either fully engaged in discussing these issues or they shy away from them entirely. Ms. Gaines ensures that the boards on which she serves discuss difficult issues, including sexual harassment. She recommends that directors work to determine what is really happening in the company by:

  • Reviewing complaints and their disposition

  • Monitoring hotline metrics

  • Reviewing policy, particularly the code of conduct

  • Ensuring training is taking place

  • Reviewing culture survey results

  • Requesting that management undertake pulse surveys and even focus groups around these issues

Difficult situations can arise if an offender is important to the company’s bottom line. For example, a board may find itself faced with a difficult choice if a superstar CEO is found to have violated the company’s code of conduct, fearing that a dismissal could impact short-term shareholder value. According to Ms. Gaines, superstar status is always irrelevant. She suggests that the board should take action to remove an offending CEO, and then have a separate conversation about revenue and valuation implications. She added that the company must be clear about its culture and key principles, and should have zero tolerance for misconduct, applied to everyone in the company equally. “Board members have to keep each other honest,” she said.

The #MeToo movement will also have an impact on the boardroom, as well as on investor relations, according to Ms. Glover. Indeed, large shareholders are asking about diversity on the board, and they may request sexual harassment policies and pay equity measures. Ms. Gaines emphasized the clear-cut nature of the need for more diverse boards. “Diversity is good business,” she said, “and we are nowhere near where we should be. We need more gender diversity and more people of color on boards. Don’t miss this in the search for skill sets.”

Ms. Campbell says that she encourages boards to have at least two diverse members on their boards, as those boards tend to be more successful. Women and people of color who are new to a board, can play an important role in discussions about sexual harassment and equal pay for equal work. When asked for practical advice for new board members, Ms. Gaines shared the following tips:

  • Get the facts right.

  • Take the emotion away.

  • Look fo an ally on the board.

  • Be persistent.

Ms. Glover summed up the issue: “We can do better. And when we do, we can get on with realizing the deeper value that a diverse board can deliver.”






Perspectives for Leadership: The New World Order 

February 23, 2017 Published by

Regardless of which party is in the White House, the National Association of Corporate Directors’ (NACD) more than 17,000 members will have a significant impact on both our economy and the country’s social fabric. The importance of strong corporate leadership was one of many topics discussed when the NACD Atlanta Chapter hosted a discussion about the Trump administration’s new world order.

Despite different party allegiances, six-term Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Republican strategist Ron Kaufman shared their optimism about the country and the global economy. Moderator Eric Tanenblatt led an informative and insightful discussion in which each panelist shared his perspective on topics relevant to business leaders.

President Trump's Victory


Governor Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and six term-governor, opined that despite some of the unpleasant overtones of the Trump campaign, President Trump’s victory can at a high level be attributed to discontent with the economy, and specifically to the impacts of automation and the Internet. The perception that jobs have been lost to overseas manufacturing is more likely due to workforce reductions resulting from automation. At the same time, the Internet has changed both how people receive information, and the quality of the information they receive.

As a result, many people voted for Trump because he represented change in a time when the “haves” and the “have nots” are at odds. A similar sentiment has been seen in England with the Brexit vote, and in current political tides elsewhere in Europe.

Mr. Kaufman, a senior advisor to US presidents, governors, and members of congress, concurred that the appetite for change was a significant factor in Trump’s election. He shared that during his work on behalf of candidate Jeb Bush and then candidate Trump, many of the voters he met were attempting to decide between Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders.




 New World Order 2 2017

From Left: Eric McCarthey, NACD Atlanta Chapter chair; Governor Howard Dean; Renee Glover, NACD Atlanta Chapter board member and event organizer; Ron Kaufman; and Eric Tanenblatt











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