(1) d’accroître la diversité dans la composition du conseil…
(2) de faciliter la nomination de femmes au sein des C.A…
(3) d’assurer une plus grande indépendance des membres du conseil…
(4) d’assurer la relève et l’apport d’idées neuves sur la gouvernance et les stratégies…
(5) d’éviter que des administrateurs peu engagés s’incrustent dans leurs postes.
Voici deux articles qui devraient alimenter vos réflexions sur le sujet.
Le premier, Company directors getting older – fewer age limits, a été publié par Andrew Frye et Jeff Green dans le San Francisco Chronicle.
Le second, Board Tenure: The New Hot Governance Topic ?, a été publié par Broc Romanek sur le blogue de CorporateCounsel.net
Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, des extraits de ces deux références.
Company directors getting older – fewer age limits
Berkshire’s willingness to retain directors in their ninth decades reflects Buffett’s influence on the firm and a national trend toward older boards. About 15 percent of directors at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are older than 69, compared with 9.8 percent in 2002, according to executive-compensation benchmarking firm Equilar. Proxy filings show 52 directors are age 80 or older.
« You can have great 85-year-olds and horrible 55-year-olds, » said Anne Sheehan, director of corporate governance for the $155 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System. « A lot of this depends on the 80-year-old, because I’d love to have Warren Buffett on any board. »
Boardroom age limits are less prevalent and set higher than they were five years ago, according to the latest report on director trends by executive recruitment company Spencer Stuart. Companies use age limits to promote turnover and assure investors that management is getting new ideas. Those goals may instead be achieved through term limits, Sheehan said.
Board Tenure: The New Hot Governance Topic ?
At a recent event, a member joked with me that his CEO was asked: « What was the average age of directors on his board? » – and the CEO answered: « Dead. » Based on recent stats, it appears that many directors are comfortable as turnover is quite low these days. This is reflected in Jim Kristie’s Directors & Boards piece entitled « Troubling Trend: Low Board Turnover. » As Jim points out, a director with a certain background might make sense for the company now – but might not ten years down the road as the circumstances change.
Perhaps even more important is the independence issue – is a director who sits on the board for several decades likely to still be independent after such a long tenure (see this WSJ article about the 40-year club)? Does it matter if management turns over during the director’s tenure? And if so, how much? These are issues that are being debated. What is your take?
As blogged by Davis Polk’s Ning Chiu, CII is considering policy changes linking director tenure with director independence, under which it would ask boards to consider a director’s years of service in determining director independence. According to the proposed policy, 26% of all Russell 3,000 directors have served more than 10 years and 14% have served more than 15 years. CII would not advocate for any specific tenure, unlike the European Commission, which advises that non-executive directors serve no more than 12 years. Note that under the UK’s « comply or explain » framework, companies need to disclose why a director continues to serve after being on the board nine years. I have heard that seven years is the bar in Russia.
How Does Low Board Turnover Impact Board Diversity?
Related to proper board composition is the issue of whether low board turnover is just one more factor that stifles board diversity. As well documented in numerous studies (see our « Board Diversity » Practice Area), gender diversity on boards has essentially flat-lined over the past decade – and actually has regressed in some areas. This is a real-world problem as it’s been proven that differing views on a board lead to greater corporate performance. To get boards back on track, I do think bold ideas need to be implemented – and plenty are out there, such as this one. I can’t believe that more investors haven’t been clamoring for greater diversity – but I do believe that day is near…