L’âge des nouveaux administrateurs est une variable de diversité trop souvent négligée dans la composition des CA !


Lorsque l’on parle de diversité au sein des conseils d’administration, on se réfère, la plupart du temps, à la composition du CA sur la base des genres et des origines ethniques.

L’âge des nouveaux administrateurs est une variable de diversité trop souvent négligée de la composition des CA. Dans cette enquête complète de PwC, les auteurs mettent l’accent sur les caractéristiques des administrateurs qui ont moins de 50 ans et qui servent sur les CA du S&P 500.

Cette étude de PwC est basée sur des données statistiques objectives provenant de diverses sources de divulgation des grandes entreprises américaines.

En consultant la table des matières du rapport, on constate que l’étude vise à répondre aux questions suivantes :

 

(1) Quelle est la population des jeunes administrateurs sur les CA du S&P 500 ?

Ils sont peu nombreux, et ils ne sont pas trop jeunes !

Ils ont été nommés récemment

Les femmes font une entrée remarquable, mais pas dans tous les groupes…

 

(2) Qu’y a-t-il de particulier à propos des « jeunes administrateurs » ?

96 % occupent des emplois comme hauts dirigeants, 31 % des jeunes administrateurs indépendants sont CEO provenant d’autres entreprises,

Plus de la moitié proviennent des secteurs financiers et des technologies de l’information

Ils sont capables de concilier les exigences de leurs emplois avec celles de leurs rôles d’administrateurs

Ils sont recherchés pour leurs connaissances en finance/investissement ou pour leurs expertises en technologie

90 % des jeunes administrateurs siègent à un comité du CA et 50 % siègent à deux comités

La plupart évitent de siéger à d’autres conseils d’administration

 

(3) Quelles entreprises sont les plus susceptibles de nommer de jeunes administrateurs ?

Les jeunes CEO représentent une plus grande probabilité d’agir comme administrateurs indépendants

Plus de 50 % des jeunes administrateurs indépendants proviennent des secteurs des technologies de l’information, et des produits aux consommateurs

Les secteurs les moins pourvus de jeunes administrateurs sont les suivants : télécommunications, utilités, finances et immobiliers

Les plus jeunes administrateurs expérimentent des relations mutuellement bénéfiques.

 

La conclusion de l’étude c’est qu’il est fondamental de repenser la composition des CA en fonction de l’âge. Les conseils prodigués relatifs à l’âge sont les suivants :

 

Have you analyzed the age diversity on your board, or the average age of your directors?

Does your board have an updated succession plan? Does age diversity play into considerations for new board members?

Are there key areas where your board lacks current expertise—such as technology or consumer habits? Could a new—and possibly younger—board member bring this knowledge?

Does your board have post-Boomers represented?

Does your board have a range of diversity of thought—not just one or two people in the room who you look to continually for the “diversity angle”?

Could younger directors bring some needed change to the boardroom?

 

Notons que cette étude a été faite auprès des grandes entreprises américaines. Dans l’ensemble de la population des entreprises québécoises, la situation est assez différente, car il y a beaucoup plus de jeunes sur les conseils d’administration.

Mais, à mon avis, il y a encore de nombreux efforts à faire afin de rajeunir et renouveler nos CA.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

Board composition: Consider the value of younger directors on your board

 

 

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Résumé des principaux résultats

 

There are 315 Younger Directors in the S&P 500. Together, they hold 348 board seats of companies in the index. Of these 348 Younger Director seats, 260 are filled by independent Younger Directors.

Fewer than half of S&P 500 companies have a Younger Director. Only 43% of the S&P 500 (217 companies) have at least one Younger Director on the board. At 50 of those companies, one of the Younger Directors is the company’s CEO.

S&P 500 companies with younger CEOs are much more likely to have independent Younger Directors on the board. Sixty percent (60%) of the 527 companies with a CEO aged 50 or under have at least one independent Younger
Director on the board—as compared to just 42% of companies that have a CEO over the age of 50.

Almost one-third of Younger Directors are women. Women comprise a much larger percentage (31%) of Younger Directors than in the S&P 500 overall (22%). This is in spite of the fact that over 90% of Younger Directors nominated under
shareholder agreements—such as those with an activist, private equity investor or family shareholder—are men.

Information technology and consumer products companies are more likely to have Younger Directors. The three companies in the telecommunications sector have no Younger Directors.

Close to half of the independent Younger Directors have finance/investing backgrounds. Just under one-third are cited for their technology expertise, executive experience or industry knowledge.

Younger Directors fit in board service while pursuing their careers. According to their companies’ SEC filings, 96% of Younger Directors cite active jobs or positions in addition to their board service.

Younger Directors serve on fewer boards. The average independent S&P 500 director sits on 2.1 public company boards. In contrast, independent Younger Directors sit on an average of 1.7 boards. More than half serve on only one public board.

More than half of the independent Younger Directors have held their board seat for two years or less. Only 18% have been on the board for more than five yearsé

La place des femmes sur les CA et dans la haute direction des entreprises


Voici un rapport qui fait le point sur la place des femmes dans les CA et dans des postes de haute direction des entreprises publiques (cotées) américaines et internationales.

Cet article, publié par Subodh Mishra* directeur de Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), est paru sur le forum du Harvad Law School on Corporate Governance, le 13 août 2018.

On note des progrès dans tous les domaines, mais l’évolution est encore trop lente. Eu égard à la présence des femmes sur les CA des grandes entreprises cotées, c’est la France qui remporte la palme avec 43 % de femmes sur les CA.

Les entreprises se dotent de plus en plus de politique de divulgation de la diversité sur les postes de haute direction. Le Danemark (96 %), l’Australie (91 %) et le R.U. (84 %) sont en tête de liste en ce qui concerne la présence de politique à cet égard. Les É.U. (32 %) et la Russie (22 %) ferment la marche. Le Canada est en milieu de peloton avec 63 %.

L’infographie présentée ici montre clairement les tendances dans ce domaine.

L’auteur identifie les cinq pratiques émergentes les plus significatives pour mettre en œuvre une politique de diversité exemplaire.

(1) Address subtle or unconscious bias.

Cultivating a strong culture free of subtle or unconscious bias is a fundamental step towards an inclusive work environment. A meta-analysis by the Harvard Business Review finds that subtle discrimination has as negative effects, if not more negative, than overt discrimination, as it can drain emotional and cognitive resources, it can accumulate quickly, and is difficult to address through legal recourse. The researchers suggest that structured processes and procedures around hiring, assignments, and business decisions limit the opportunity for unconscious bias to creep in. In addition, they suggest training programs and practicing techniques, such as mindfulness, to reduce bias.

(2) Establish clear diversity targets and measure progress towards goals.

Most companies with gender diversity strategies set clear, measurable targets. BP has set a goal of women representing at least 25 percent of its group leaders by 2020, while Symantecaims at having 30 percent of leadership roles occupied by women by the same year. This approach allows firms to focus on concrete performance results, while also creating a framework of accountability in the company’s gender diversity and inclusion program.

(3) Focus on key roles and redefine the path to leadership.

True meritocracy should determine the criteria for leadership roles. However, companies should recognize that there may be multiple paths to the CEO position, and should focus on their efforts on roles that lead to those paths. Women CEOs Speak, A Korn Ferry Institute study supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, identifies four different career approaches for women to prepare for the CEO role. However, the study identifies early assumption of profit-and-loss responsibilities in all four paths as a crucial experience leading to top positions.

(4) Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs.

Training and development programs within the organization can help facilitate mentorships and sponsorships, which are crucial in career development. GM’s Diversity and Inclusion Report explains how its Executive Leadership Program aims at creating a support network of female leaders, as well as training and development sessions hosted by female executives. Mentors can support employees earlier in their career with coaching and advice, while sponsors take a more active role later in one’s career to promote the individual. Gender should obviously not constitute a barrier for such mentorships and sponsorships, and organizations should take active steps to encourage such relationships across genders and remove any hesitations or biases.

(5) Provide flexibility and support towards work-life balance.

Top executive assignments often involve significant time commitments and travel that can impact an executive’s family life. In a New York Times news analysis, former McDonald’s executive Janice Fields, identified her choice not to work overseas as a handicap to becoming the CEO. Making accommodations in relation family, including both children and spouses, can remove some significant hurdles for women.

 

 

Women in the C-Suite: The Next Frontier in Gender Diversity

 

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Despite recent advances in female board participation globally, gender diversity among top executives remains disappointingly low across all markets, with some improvement discerned in the past few years. Moreover, there does not appear a correlation between board gender diversity and gender diversity in the C-Suite at the market level. Some of the markets that have implemented gender quotas on boards and have achieved the highest rates of female board participation, such as France, Sweden, and Germany, appear to have embarrassingly low rates of female top executives. In fact, many of the markets with progressive board diversity policies have lower gender diversity levels in executive positions compared to several emerging markets like South Africa, Singapore, and Thailand. Thus, achieving higher rates of gender diversity in the C-Suite will require deeper cultural shifts within organizations in order to overcome potential biases and hurdles to gender equality.

The number of female top executives remains low

 

In the past decade, gender quotas, policy initiatives, and—more recently—investor pressure have led to boards improving female board participation in Europe and North America significantly. The percentage of female directors in the Russell 3000 increased from 10 percent in 2008 to 18 percent in 2018, with most of the increase taking place since 2013. Similarly, the percentage of female directors in ISS’s core universe of widely-held European firms more than tripled from 8 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2018. While the recent push by policymakers, investors, and advocacy groups for greater gender diversity has primarily focused on board positions, the discussion is beginning to evolve to encompass diversity in all leadership roles, including top management. In the United States, we have observed small but significant changes in the gender composition of the C-Suite over the past five years. Since 2012, the Russell 3000 has seen a 70-percent increase in the number of female CEOs. Despite the relative increase, the number of top female executives remains disappointingly low, with only 5 percent of Russell 3000 companies having a female CEO in 2018.

 

Companies need to develop the pipeline of female executive leaders

 

The scarcity of female CEOs does not appear surprising, especially after taking a closer look at the rest of the members of the C-Suite, who often comprise the primary candidates in line for succession for the top job. These roles include the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Head of Sales, among others. Only 9 percent of top executive positions in the Russell 3000 are filled by women, which means that companies have a long way to go towards building gender equity within the top ranks where the next generation of CEOs are cultivated. Certain sectors lag considerably more than others, with Real Estate, Telecommunications and Energy exhibiting the lowest rates of female named executive officers.

 

Within the C-Suite, gender differentiation persists in terms of executive roles

 

The picture seems even bleaker for the future of gender parity at the CEO level when examining the types of roles that female top executives currently occupy within their organizations. Female executives appear scarcer at roles with profit-and-loss responsibilities that often serve as stepping stones to the CEO role, such as COO, Head of Sales, or CEOs of business units and subsidiary groups. Meanwhile, women are more highly concentrated in positions that rarely see a promotion to the top job, such as Human Resources Officer, General Counsel, and Chief Administrative Officer.

 

 

Not surprisingly, and in conjunction with the disparity in functions described above, women who belong to the group of the five highest paid executive officers in their organization, are far more likely to rank fourth or fifth in pay rank compared to their male counterparts. Approximately 46 percent of women in the top five positions rank either fourth or fifth in pay, compared to 33 percent of male top five executives in these pay rankings.

 

Breaking down barriers to gender diversity in the C-Suite

 

Companies can take a number steps to foster gender diversity in their executive leadership, and to remove biases or potential obstacles to an inclusive management environment. Many companies have identified gender diversity in leadership positions as a key priority, and have established gender diversity strategies to achieve specific goals. While workforce diversity policies appear to become the standard across most markets, gender diversity policies at the senior management level are common only in some markets. According to ISS Environmental & Social QualityScore data, the majority of companies in developed European markets and Canada disclose gender diversity policies for senior managers. The practice has not been widely established United States, where 32 percent of the S&P 500 and only 4 percent of the remaining Russell 3000 disclose such policies.

 

 

Several companies and advocacy groups identify gender diversity and inclusion as a major driver for talent acquisition and performance. The recognition of the absence of women in top executive roles has sparked several initiatives that seek to promote inclusivity in the workplace. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100×25 advocacy initiative aims at bringing more women to the C-Suite, with the explicit goal of having 100 Fortune 500 female CEOs by 2025. Meanwhile, Paradigm for Parity was formed by a coalition of business leaders (CEOs, founders, and board members), and set the goal of achieving full gender parity by 2030. The group has created a 5-point action plan to help companies accelerate their progress.

Based on the work of these initiatives and actual programs disclosed by companies, we identify five of the emerging best practices that companies adopt to address gender diversity in leadership roles.

Address subtle or unconscious bias. Cultivating a strong culture free of subtle or unconscious bias is a fundamental step towards an inclusive work environment. A meta-analysis by the Harvard Business Review finds that subtle discrimination has as negative effects, if not more negative, than overt discrimination, as it can drain emotional and cognitive resources, it can accumulate quickly, and is difficult to address through legal recourse. The researchers suggest that structured processes and procedures around hiring, assignments, and business decisions limit the opportunity for unconscious bias to creep in. In addition, they suggest training programs and practicing techniques, such as mindfulness, to reduce bias.

Establish clear diversity targets and measure progress towards goals. Most companies with gender diversity strategies set clear, measurable targets. BP has set a goal of women representing at least 25 percent of its group leaders by 2020, while Symantecaims at having 30 percent of leadership roles occupied by women by the same year. This approach allows firms to focus on concrete performance results, while also creating a framework of accountability in the company’s gender diversity and inclusion program.

Focus on key roles and redefine the path to leadership. True meritocracy should determine the criteria for leadership roles. However, companies should recognize that there may be multiple paths to the CEO position, and should focus on their efforts on roles that lead to those paths. Women CEOs Speak, A Korn Ferry Institute study supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, identifies four different career approaches for women to prepare for the CEO role. However, the study identifies early assumption of profit-and-loss responsibilities in all four paths as a crucial experience leading to top positions.

Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs. Training and development programs within the organization can help facilitate mentorships and sponsorships, which are crucial in career development. GM’s Diversity and Inclusion Report explains how its Executive Leadership Program aims at creating a support network of female leaders, as well as training and development sessions hosted by female executives. Mentors can support employees earlier in their career with coaching and advice, while sponsors take a more active role later in one’s career to promote the individual. Gender should obviously not constitute a barrier for such mentorships and sponsorships, and organizations should take active steps to encourage such relationships across genders and remove any hesitations or biases.

Provide flexibility and support towards work-life balance. Top executive assignments often involve significant time commitments and travel that can impact an executive’s family life. In a New York Times news analysis, former McDonald’s executive Janice Fields, identified her choice not to work overseas as a handicap to becoming the CEO. Making accommodations in relation family, including both children and spouses, can remove some significant hurdles for women.

_________________________________________________________________

*Subodh Mishra is Executive Director at Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc. This post is based on an ISS Analytics publication by Kosmas Papadopoulos, Managing Editor at ISS Analytics.

Le futur code de gouvernance du Royaume-Uni


Je vous invite à prendre connaissance du futur code de gouvernance du Royaume-Uni (R.-U.).

À cet effet, voici un billet de Martin Lipton*, paru sur le site de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, qui présente un aperçu des points saillants.

Bonne lecture !

 

The Financial Reporting Council today [July 16, 2018] issued a revised corporate governance code and announced that a revised investor stewardship code will be issued before year-end. The code and related materials are available at www.frc.org.uk.

The revised code contains two provisions that will be of great interest. They will undoubtedly be relied upon in efforts to update the various U.S. corporate governance codes. They will also be used to further the efforts to expand the sustainability and stakeholder concerns of U.S. boards.

First, the introduction to the code makes note that shareholder primacy needs to be moderated and that the concept of the “purpose” of the corporation, as long put forth in the U.K. by Colin Mayer and recently popularized in the U.S. by Larry Fink in his 2018 letter to CEO’s, is the guiding principle for the revised code:

Companies do not exist in isolation. Successful and sustainable businesses underpin our economy and society by providing employment and creating prosperity. To succeed in the long-term, directors and the companies they lead need to build and maintain successful relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. These relationships will be successful and enduring if they are based on respect, trust and mutual benefit. Accordingly, a company’s culture should promote integrity and openness, value diversity and be responsive to the views of shareholders and wider stakeholders.

Second, the code provides that the board is responsible for policies and practices which reinforce a healthy culture and that the board should engage:

with the workforce through one, or a combination, of a director appointed from the workforce, a formal workforce advisory panel and a designated non-executive director, or other arrangements which meet the circumstances of the company and the workforce.

It will be interesting to see how this provision will be implemented and whether it gains any traction in the U.S.

 

 

The UK Corporate Governance Code

 

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Martin Lipton* is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Lipton.

L’évolution du statut d’administrateur indépendant en 2017 | EY


Comment a évolué la situation du statut d’indépendance des administrateurs en 2017 ?

La publication d’EY est très intéressante à cet égard ; elle tente de répondre à cette question et elle brosse un tableau de la composition des conseils d’administration en 2017.

L’étude effectuée par l’équipe de Steve W. Klemash* auprès des entreprises du Fortune 100 montre clairement l’importance accrue accordée au critère d’administrateur indépendant au fil des ans.

Ainsi, au cours des deux dernières années, 80 % des administrateurs nommés par les actionnaires avaient la qualité d’administrateurs indépendants.

La plupart des nouveaux administrateurs avaient une expertise en finance et comptabilité et 44 % de ceux-ci ont été nommés sur le comité d’audit.

Cette année, 54 % des nouveaux arrivants étaient des personnes qui n’étaient pas CEO, comparativement à 51 % l’année précédente.

On compte 40 % de femmes parmi les nouveaux administrateurs en 2017.

Également, les nouveaux administrateurs sont plus jeunes : 15 % ont moins de 50 ans comparativement à 9 % l’année précédente. De plus, 85 % des nouveaux administrateurs avaient entre 50 ans et 67 ans.

Les entreprises recherchent une plus grande diversité de profils d’origine, d’expertises, d’habiletés et d’expériences.

J’ai tenté de résumer les principales conclusions de cette étude. Je vous renvoie à l’étude originale afin d’en connaître les détails.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

 

Independent Directors: New Class of 2017

 

 

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Companies are continuing to bring fresh and diverse perspectives into the boardroom and to enhance alignment of board composition with their forward-looking strategies.

In our second annual report, we share the results of our analysis of independent directors who were elected by shareholders to the board of a Fortune 100 company for the first time in 2017—what we refer to as the “new class of 2017.”

We looked at corporate disclosures to see what qualifications and characteristics were specifically highlighted, showcasing what this new class of directors brings to the boardroom. Our research was based on a review of proxy statements filed by companies on the 2017 Fortune 100 list. We also reviewed the same 83 companies’ class of 2016 directors to provide consistency in year-on-year comparisons.

 

Our perspective

 

What we’re hearing in the market is that boards are seeking slates of candidates who bring a diverse perspective and a range of functional expertise, including on complex, evolving areas such as digital transformation, e-commerce, public policy, regulation and talent management. As a result, boards are increasingly considering highly qualified, nontraditional candidates, such as non-CEOs, as well as individuals from a wider range of backgrounds. These developments are expanding the short lists of potential director candidates.

At the same time, companies are expanding voluntary disclosures around board composition. Our review of Fortune 100 disclosures around board composition found that:

While diverse director candidates are in high demand and related shifts in board composition are underway, these developments may be slow to manifest. For example, consider that the average Fortune 100 board has 10 seats. In this context, the addition of a single new director is unlikely to dramatically shift averages in terms of gender diversity, age, tenure or other considerations.

That said, whether a board’s pace of change is sufficient depends on a company’s specific circumstances and evolving board oversight needs. Boards should challenge their approach to refreshment, asking whether they are meeting the company’s diversity, strategy and risk oversight needs. Waiting for an open seat to nominate a diverse candidate may mean waiting for the value that diversity could bring.

In 2018, we anticipate that companies will continue to offer more voluntary disclosure on board composition, showing how their directors represent the best mix of individuals for the company—across multiple dimensions, including a diversity of backgrounds, expertise, skill sets and experiences.

 

Key findings

1. Most Fortune 100 companies welcomed a new independent director in 2017

 

This past year, over half of the Fortune 100 companies we reviewed added at least one independent director. This figure is a little lower than the prior year; but overall, during the two-year period from 2016 to 2017, over 80% of the companies added at least one independent director. Taking into account director exits—whether due to retirement, corporate restructuring, pursuit of new opportunities or other reasons—we found that nearly all of the companies experienced some type of change in board composition during this period.

2. The class of 2017 brings greater finance and accounting, public policy and regulatory, and operational skills to the table.

 

Corporate finance and accounting were the most common director qualifications cited by companies in 2017, up from fifth in 2016. A couple areas saw notable increases: government and public policy, operations and manufacturing, and transactional finance. This year, some areas tied in ranking, and in a twist, corporate references to expertise in strategy fell from third in 2016 to below the top 10 categories of expertise. Companies also made fewer references to board service or governance expertise compared to the prior year.

3. Most of the 2017 entering class was assigned to audit committees.

 

The strength of corporate finance and accounting expertise of the entering class is seen, too, with regards to key committee designations. Of the three “key committees” of audit, compensation, and nominating and governance, the 2017 entering class was primarily assigned to serve on audit committees. A closer look at the disclosures shows that 63% of the new directors that were assigned to the audit committee were formally designated as audit committee financial experts. In comparison, the corresponding figure in the prior year was 59%.

 

4. The Fortune 100 class of 2017 includes more non-CEOs.

 

While experience as a CEO is often cited as a traditional first cut for search firms, 54% of the entering class served in other roles, with non-CEO backgrounds including other executive roles or non-corporate backgrounds (academia, scientific organizations, nonprofits, government, military, etc.). This represents a slight increase from 2016 with most of the shift stemming from individuals holding or having held other senior executive positions. Approximately 30% appear to be joining a Fortune 100 public company board, having never previously served on a public company board—similar to 2016.

5. The class of 2017 is 40% female

 

As in the prior year, 40% of the entering class were women, but overall percentages were largely unchanged, with women directors averaging 28% board representation compared to 27% in 2016. Also, there was minimal age difference, with the women directors averaging 57 compared to 58 for male counterparts. Among the directors bringing the top categories of expertise, women directors accounted for over one-third of the disclosed director qualifications. In some cases, they represented over half of the disclosed category of expertise.

6. The class of 2017 tends to be younger

 

There appears to be an ongoing shift toward younger directors. For the class of 2017 entering directors, the average age of these individuals was 57, compared to 63 for incumbents and 68 for exiting directors. Of the entering class, 15% were under 50, an increase from 9% in the prior year. And, for the second consecutive year, we observe that over half of the entering class was under the age of 60. Exiting directors largely continue to be age 68 or older.

Questions for the board to consider

 

– How is the company aligning the skills of its directors—and that of the full board—to the company’s long-term strategy through board refreshment and succession planning efforts? How is the company providing voluntary disclosures around its approach in these areas?

– Does the company’s pool of director candidates challenge traditional search norms such as title, age, industry and geography?

– How is the company addressing growing investor and stakeholder attention to board diversity, and is the company providing disclosure around the diversity of the board—defined as including considerations such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality—in addition to skills and expertise?

______________________________________________________________________________________

*Steve W. Klemash is Americas Leader, Kellie C. Huennekens is Associate Director, and Jamie Smith is Associate Director, at the EY Center for Board Matters. This post is based on their EY publication.

Douze questions qu’un administrateur doit se poser afin de cerner l’efficacité de son CA


J’ai trouvé très intéressantes les questions qu’un nouvel administrateur pourrait se poser afin de mieux cerner les principaux facteurs liés à la bonne gouvernance d’un conseil d’administration.

Bien sûr, ce petit questionnaire peut également être utilisé par un membre de CA qui veut évaluer la qualité de la gouvernance de son propre conseil d’administration.

Les administrateurs peuvent interroger le président du conseil, les autres membres du conseil et le secrétaire corporatif.

Les douze questions énumérées ci-dessous ont fait l’objet d’une discussion lors d’une table ronde organisée par INSEAD Directors Forum du campus asiatique de Singapore.

Cet article a été publié par Noelle Ahlberg Kleiterp* sur le site de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance.

Chaque question est accompagnée de quelques réflexions utiles pour permettre le passage à l’acte.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

Twelve questions to determine board effectiveness

 

 

In many countries, boards of directors (particularly those of large organisations) have functioned too long as black boxes. Directors’ focus has often—and understandably so—been monopolised by a laundry list of issues to be discussed and typically approved at quarterly meetings.

The board’s own performance, effectiveness, processes and habits receive scant reflection. Many directors are happy to leave the corporate secretary with the task of keeping sight of governance best practices; certainly they do not regard it as their own responsibility.

It occurred to me later that these questions could be of broader use to directors as a framework for beginning a reassessment of their board role.

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However, increased regulatory pressures are now pushing boards toward greater responsibility, transparency and self-awareness. In some countries, annual board reviews have become compulsory. In addition, mounting concerns about board diversity provide greater scope for questioning the status quo.

Achieving a more heterogeneous mix of specialisations, cultures and professional experiences entails a willingness to revise some unwritten rules that, in many instances, have governed board functions. And that is not without risk.

At the same time, the “diversity recruits” wooed for board positions may not know the explicit, let alone the implicit, rules. Some doubtless never anticipated they would be asked to join a board. Such invitations often come out of the blue, with little motivation or clarity about what is expected from the new recruit. No universal guidelines are available to aid candidates as they decide whether to accept their invitation.

Long-standing directors and outliers alike could benefit from a crash course in the fundamentals of well-run boards. This was the subject of a roundtable discussion held in February 2017 as part of the INSEAD Directors Forum on the Asia campus.

As discussion leader, I gave the participants, most of whom were recent recipients of INSEAD’s Certificate in Corporate Governance, a basic quiz designed to prompt reflection about how their board applies basic governance principles. It occurred to me later that these questions could be of broader use to directors as a framework for beginning a reassessment of their board role.

 

Questions and reflections

 

Q1) True/False: My board maintains a proper ratio of governing vs. executing.

Reflection: Recall basic principles of governance. If you are executing, who is maintaining oversight over you? Why aren’t the executive team executing and the board governing?

 

Q2) True/False: My board possesses the required competencies to fulfil its duties.

Reflection: Competencies can be industry-specific or universal (such as being an effective director). Many boards are reluctant to replace members, yet the needs of the organisation shift and demand new competencies, particularly in the digital age. Does your board have a director trained in corporate governance who could take the lead? Or does it adopt the outdated view of governance as a matter for the corporate secretary, perhaps in consultation with owners?

 

Q3) True/False: The frequency and duration of my board meetings are sufficient.

Reflection: Do you cover what you must cover and have ample time for strategy discussions? Are discussions taking place at the table that should be conducted prior to meetings?

 

Q4) How frequently does your chairperson meet with management: weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or otherwise?

Reflection: Meetings can be face-to-face or virtual. An alternative question is: Consider email traffic between the chair/board and management—is correspondence at set times (e.g. prior to scheduled meetings/calls) or random in terms of topic and frequency?

 

Q5) Is this frequency excessive, adequate or insufficient?

Reflection: Consider what is driving the frequency of the meetings (or email traffic). Is there a pressing topic that justifies more frequent interactions? Is there a lack of trust or lack of interest driving the frequency?

 

Q6) True/False: My board possesses the ideal mix of competencies to handle the most pressing issue on the agenda.

Reflection: If one issue continually appears on the agenda (e.g. marketing-related), there could be reason to review the board’s effectiveness with regards to this issue, and probably the mix of skills within the current board. If the necessary expertise were present at the table, could the board have resolved the issue?

 

Q7) True/False: The executive team is competent/capable. If “false”, is your board acting on this?

Reflection: At this point in the quiz, you should be considering whether incompetency is the issue. If so, is it being addressed? How comfortable are you, for example, that your executive team is capable of addressing digitisation?

 

Q8) True/False: My chairperson is effective.

Reflection: Perhaps incompetency rests with the chairperson or with a few board members. Are elements within control of the chairperson well managed? Does your board function professionally? If not, does the chair intervene and improve matters? Are you alone in your views regarding board effectiveness? A “false” answer here should lead you to take an activist role at the table to guide the chair and the board to effectiveness.

 

Q9) Yes/No: Does your board effectively make use of committees? If “yes”, how many and for which topics? If “no”, why not?

Reflection: Well-defined committees (e.g. audit, nomination, risk) improve the efficiency of board meetings and are a vital component of governance. In the non-profit arena, use of board committees is less common. However, non-profit boards can equally benefit from this basic guiding principle of good governance.

 

Q10) True/False: Recruitment/nomination of new board members adheres to a robust process.

Reflection: When are openings posted? Who reviews/targets potential candidates? How are candidate criteria determined?  And is there a clear “on-boarding” process that is regularly revisited?

 

Q11) True/False: My board performs a board review annually.

Reflection: A board review will touch on many elements mentioned in previous questions. Obtaining buy-in for the first review might prove painful. Thereafter knowledge of an annual review will undoubtedly lead to more conscious governance and opportunities to introduce improvements (including replacement of board members). Procedurally, the review of the board as a whole should precede the review of individuals.

 

Q12) Think of a tough decision your board has made. Recall how the decision was reached and results were monitored. Was “fair process leadership” (FPL) at play?

Reflection: Put yourself in the shoes of a fellow board member, perhaps the one most dissatisfied with the outcome of a particular decision. Would that person agree that fair process was adhered to, despite his or her own feelings? Boards that apply fair process move on—as a team—from what is perceived to be a negative outcome for an individual board member. If decisions are made rashly and lack follow-up, FPL is not applied. Energies will quickly leave the room.

 

From reflection to action

 

Roundtable participants agreed that these questions should be applied in light of the longevity of the organisation concerned. Compared with most mature organisations, a start-up will need many more board meetings and more interactions between the board and the management team. The “exit” phase of an organisation (or a sub-part of the organisation) is another time in the lifecycle that requires intensified board involvement.

Particularly in the non-profit sector, where directors commonly work pro bono, passion for the organisational mission should be a prerequisite for all prospective board members. However, passion—in the form of a determination to see the organisation’s strategy succeed—should be a consideration for all board members and nominees, regardless of the sector.

Directors who apply the above framework and are dissatisfied with what they discover could seek solutions in their professional networks, corporate governance textbooks or a course such as INSEAD’s International Directors Programme.

If you are considering a board role, you could use the 12 questions, tweak them for your needs and evaluate your answers. Speak not only with the chair, but also with as many board members and relevant executive team members as you can. Understand your comfort level with how the board operates and applies governance principles before accepting a mandate.


Noelle Ahlberg Kleiterp, MBA, IDP-C, has worked for 25 years across three continents with companies including GE, KPMG, Andersen Consulting and Atradius. Noelle owns a sole proprietorship in Singapore and serves as a board member on a non-profit organisation in Singapore.

Quelles sont les priorités des investisseurs en matière de gouvernance des sociétés ?


Les investisseurs institutionnels (II) cherchent constamment à améliorer leur portefeuille d’entreprises dans une perspective à long terme.

Ainsi, les II sont à la recherche de moyens pour communiquer efficacement avec les sociétés dans lesquelles elles investissent.

L’étude menée par Steve W. Klemash, leader du EY Center for Board Matters, auprès de 60 grands investisseurs institutionnels américains tous azimuts, a tenté de déterminer les cinq plus importantes priorités à accorder aux choix des entreprises sous gestion.

Voici donc les cinq grands thèmes qui intéressent les investisseurs institutionnels dans la sélection des entreprises :

(1) La composition du conseil d’administration, avec un œil sur l’amélioration de la diversité ;

(2) Un niveau d’expertise des administrateurs qui est en lien avec les objectifs d’affaires de l’entreprise ;

(3) Une attention accrue accordée aux risques de nature climatique ou environnemental ;

(4) Une attention marquée accordée à la gestion des talents

(5) Une rémunération qui est très bien alignée sur la performance et la stratégie.

Je vous propose un résumé des principaux résultats de travaux de recherche de EY. Pour plus de détails, je vous invite à consulter l’article ci-dessous.

Bonne lecture !

 

2018 Proxy Season Review

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « investisseurs institutionnels »

Les cinq grandes priorités des investisseurs institutionnels en 2018

 

1. La composition du conseil d’administration, avec un œil sur l’amélioration de la diversité

 

2. Un niveau d’expertise des administrateurs qui est en lien avec les objectifs d’affaires de l’entreprise

 

 

3. Une attention accrue accordée aux risques de nature climatique ou environnemental

 

 

4. Une attention marquée accordée à la gestion des talents

 

 

5. Une rémunération qui est très bien alignée sur la performance et la stratégie

 

 

Investor priorities as seen through the shareholder proposal lens

 

For a broader perspective of investor priorities, a review of the top shareholder proposal topics of 2017, based on average support, shows that around half focus on environment and social topics. While the average support for many of these proposal topics appear low, this understates impact. Environmental and social proposals typically see withdrawal rates of around one-third, primarily due to company-investor successes in reaching agreement. Depending on the company situation and specific proposal being voted, some proposals may receive strong support of votes cast by a company’s broader base of investors.

Conclusion

 

Institutional investors are increasingly asking companies about how they are navigating changing business environments, technological disruption and environmental challenges to achieve long-term, sustained growth. By addressing these same topics in their interactions with and disclosures to investors, boards and executives have an opportunity to highlight to investors how the company is positioned to navigate business transformations over the short- and long-term. This opportunity, in turn, enables companies to attract the kind of investors that support the approach taken by the board and management. Like strong board composition, enhanced disclosure and investor engagement efforts can serve as competitive advantages.

 

Questions for the board to consider

 

– Are there opportunities to strengthen disclosures around the board’s composition and director qualifications and how these support company strategy?

– Do the board and its committees have appropriate access to deep, timely expertise and open communication channels with management as needed for effective oversight?

– Do the board and management understand how key investors generally view the company’s disclosures and strategic initiatives regarding environmental and social matters?

– How does the board define and articulate its oversight responsibilities with regard to talent? And does the board believe that the company has an adequate plan for talent management considering recent employee and employment-related developments and the company’s competitive position?

– To what extent have the board and management offered to dialogue with the governance specialists at their key investor organizations, whether active or passive, and including the largest and smallest, vocal shareholder proponents?

 ____________________________________________
*Steve W. Klemash* is EY Americas Leader at the EY Center for Board Matters. This post is based on an EY publication by Mr. Klemash.

Abrègement de la durée des fonctions de CEO | Une étude d’Equilar


Voici une étude d’Equilar qui montre une diminution constante dans la durée d’exercice des CEO aux États-Unis au cours des 5 dernières années.

Le rapport a été publié par Dan Marcec directeur des communications de la firme.

Ainsi, la présence en poste des CEO est passée d’une médiane de 6 ans, en 2013, à 5 ans, en 2017.

 

 

On note également que plus du quart des CEO restent en poste plus de 10 ans, comparativement à 38,1 % qui sont en poste entre un an et cinq ans.

 

 

 

L’article présente également un tableau qui montre les raisons des départs des CEO : (1) démissions (2) retraites (3) congédiement. On note que seulement 10 CEO ont été congédiés sur une période de dix ans. On peut dire que l’emploi est assez stable !

 

 

Enfin, l’étude montre que l’accroissement du taux des départs n’a pas donné lieu à des progrès dans le cadre de la diversité. En effet, comme le montre le tableau suivant, le nombre de femmes CEO de grandes entreprises est passé de 3,7 %, en 2013, à 5,6 % en 2017. La fonction de CEO dans ces entreprises est encore réservée presque exclusivement aux hommes.

 

 

Vous pouvez prendre connaissance de cet article paru sur le site du Harvard Law School Forum :

CEO Tenure Rates

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 18 janvier 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 18 janvier 2018.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

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  5. 2017 Year in Review: Securities Litigation and Regulation
  6. Changes in ISS 2018 Compensation FAQs
  7. Network Effects in Corporate Governance
  8. A Sense of Purpose
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  10. BlackRock Supports Stakeholder Governance

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 12 janvier 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 12 janvier 2018.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

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  1. Tax Reform Implications for U.S. Businesses and Foreign Investments
  2. Ineffective Stockholder Approval for Director Equity Awards
  3. Does Size Matter? Bailouts with Large and Small Banks
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  5. Managing the Family Firm: Evidence from CEOs at Work
  6. Compensation Season 2018
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  8. CEO Gender and Corporate Board Structures
  9. Activist Investing in Europe—2017 Edition
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Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 4 janvier 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 4 janvier 2018.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

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  1. Venture Capital Investments and Merger and Acquisition Activity around the World
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  8. Top 10 Topics for Directors in 2018
  9. How Director Age Influences Corporate Performance
  10. The Changing Landscape of Auditor Litigation and Its Implication for Audit Quality

Enquête de Deloitte sur la diversité des conseils d’administration


Il existe une solide unanimité sur l’importance d’accroître la diversité dans les conseils d’administration.

Mike Fucci, président du conseil de Deloitte, nous présente une excellente infographie* sur le sujet.

Voici un sommaire des thèmes traités dans son article, paru dans Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance.

(1) Perception de la diversité dans les conseils d’administration

Les CA sont d’accord avec la nécessité d’une grande diversité

Les leaders perçoivent clairement les bienfaits de la diversité

Cependant, il y a peu d’administrateurs qui voient le manque de diversité comme un problème majeur !

(2) Recrutement et pratiques d’évaluation

Les CA s’en remettent trop souvent aux critères traditionnels de sélection des administrateurs (grande expérience de management ou de PDG)

Environ la moitié des organisations qui ont des plans de relève n’ont pas de processus de recrutement comportant des habiletés liées à la diversité

Presque toutes les organisations sont conscientes que les politiques concernant la limitation du nombre de mandats et de l’âge sont nécessaires pour assurer le renouvellement du CA

Cependant, les pratiques utilisées semblent limiter la diversité

(3) Nouveau modèle de gouvernance — la mixtocratie

Atteindre un équilibre entre l’expérience souhaitée et la diversité requise

Nécessité de revoir la notion de risque

Faire la promotion du modèle de diversité

Revoir systématiquement la composition du conseil

Redynamiser la planification de la relève

Avoir des objectifs clairs de diversité

 

L’infographie présentée parle d’elle-même. Bonne lecture !

 

 

2017 Board Diversity Survey

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1. Perceptions of board diversity

 

The findings in this section show that the survey found nearly universal agreement on the need for diverse skill sets and perspectives on the board, and on the potential benefits of diversity.

 

Boards agree on the need for diversity

 

Note, however, that this finding does not reveal where diversity of skill sets and perspectives are needed. Thus, the skills and perspectives could be those of, say, financial or operating or information
technology executives. Such backgrounds would represent diversity of skills and perspectives, but not the demographic diversity that the term “diversity” usually implies.

Demographic diversity remains an essential goal in that gender and racial differences are key determinates of a person’s experiences, attitudes, frame of reference, and point of view.

As the next finding reveals, however, respondents do not see demographic diversity as enough.

 

Board members see diversity as going beyond basic demographics

 

Nine in ten respondents agree that gender and racial diversity alone does not produce the diversity required for an organization to be innovative or disruptive. This may be surprising, given that gender and racial differences are generally seen as contributing to diverse perspectives. Yet those contributions may be tempered if recruiting and selection methods skew toward candidates with the backgrounds and experiences of white males with executive experience.

More to the point, it would be unfortunate if a focus on diversity of skills and perspectives were to undermine or cloud the focus on gender and racial diversity. In fact, typical definitions of board diversity include a demographic component. Deloitte’s 2016 Board Practices Report found that 53 percent of large-cap and 45 percent of mid-cap organizations disclose gender data on their board’s diversity; the respective numbers for racial diversity are, far lower, however: 18 percent and 9 percent. [1]

So, the deeper questions may be these: How does the board go about defining diversity? Does its definition include gender and racial factors? Does it also include factors such as skills, experiences, and perspectives? Will the board’s practices enable it to achieve diversity along these various lines?

Before turning to practices, we consider the potential benefits of diversity.

 

Leaders overwhelmingly perceive benefits in diversity

 


Taken at face value, these answers indicate that boards believe in diversity, however they go about defining it, for business reasons and not just for its own sake or reasons of social responsibility.

 

…Yet relatively few see a lack of diversity as a top problem

 

The foregoing findings show that leaders believe that boards need greater diversity of skills and perspectives, that demographic diversity alone may not produce that diversity, and that diversity is seen as beneficial in managing innovation, disruption, and business performance. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, few respondents cited a lack of diversity as a top problem.

So, while 95 percent of respondents agree that their board needs to seek out more candidates with diverse skills and perspectives, far smaller percentages cite lack of diversity as among the top problems they face in candidate recruitment or selection.

Does this reflect contentment with current board composition and acceptance of the status quo?

Perhaps, or perhaps not.

However, we can say that many board recruitment and selection practices remain very traditional.

 

Part 2. Recruitment and evaluation practices

 

Board recruitment practices have arguably not kept pace with the desire and need for greater board diversity.

 

Boards still rely on traditional candidate criteria

 

In addition, 81 percent of respondents would expect multiple board members to see a candidate without executive experience as unqualified to serve on the board.

The low percentage of women candidates (16 percent) is striking, as is that of racial minorities (19 percent). However, that may be a logical outcome of a process favoring selecting candidates with board experience—who historically have tended to be white and male.

So, in the recruitment process, board members are often seeking people who tend to be like themselves—and like management. Such a process may help to reinforce a lack of diversity in perspectives and experiences, as well as (in most companies) in gender and race.

Relying on resumes, which reflect organizational and educational experience, helps to reinforce traditional patterns of board composition.

 

About half of organizations have processes focused on diverse skills and disruptive views

 

Given all their other responsibilities, many boards understandably rely on existing recruitment tools and processes. They use resumes, their networks, and executive recruiters—all of which tend to generate results very similar to past results.

However, our current disruptive environment likely calls for more creative approaches to reaching diverse candidates. Some organizations have taken steps to address these needs.

 

Our survey did not assess the nature or extent of the processes for recruiting candidates with diverse skills or perspectives, indicating an area for further investigation.

 

Policies affecting board refreshment

 

Policies, as well as processes, can affect board composition. Low turnover on boards can not only hinder movement toward greater diversity but also lead to myopic views of operations or impaired ability to oversee evolving strategies and risks.

While board members expressed agreement with term and age limits, the latter are far more common. Our separate 2016 Board Practices Report found that 81 percent of large-cap and 74 percent of mid-cap companies have age limits, but only 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively, have term limits. [2] This evidences a large gap between agreement with term limits as an idea and term limits as a practice.

 

Current practices tend to limit diversity

 

Deloitte’s 2016 Board Practices Report also found that 84 percent of large-cap and 90 percent of mid-cap organizations most often rely on current directors’ recommendations of candidates. [3] That same study found that 68 percent and 79 percent, respectively, use a recruiting firm when needed, and that 62 percent and 79 percent use a board skills matrix or similar tool.

Relying on current directors’ recommendations will generally produce candidates much like those directors. Recruiting firms can be valuable, but tend to adopt the client’s view of diversity. Tools such as board competency matrices generally do not account for an organization’s strategy, nor do they provide a very nuanced view of individual board members’ experiences and capabilities. In other words, bringing people with diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences to the board—as well as women and racial and ethnic minorities—requires more robust processes than those currently used by most boards.

 

Part 3. A path forward—The Mixtocracy Model

 

The term meritocracy describes organizational advancement based upon merit—talents and accomplishments—and aims to combat the nepotism and cronyism that traditionally permeated many businesses. However, too often meritocracy results in mirrortocracy in which all directors bring similar perspectives and approaches to governance, risk management, and other board responsibilities.

A board differs from a position, such as chief executive officer or chief financial officer, in that it is a collection of individuals. A board is a team and, like any other team, it requires people who can fulfill specific roles, contribute different skills and views, and work together to achieve certain goals.

Thus, a board can include nontraditional members who will be balanced out by more traditional ones. Many existing recruiting methods do too little to achieve true diversity. The prevalence of those criteria and methods can repeatedly send boards back to the same talent pool, even in the case of women and minority candidates. For example, Deloitte’s 2016 Board Diversity Census shows that female and black directors are far more likely than white male directors to hold multiple Fortune 500 board seats. [4]

Therefore, organizations should consider institutionalizing a succession planning and recruitment process that more closely aligns to their ideal board composition and diversity goals. Here are three ways to potentially do that:

 Look beyond “the tried and true.” Even when boards account for gender and race, current practices may tend to source candidates with similar views. Succession plans should create seats for those who are truly different, for example someone with no board experience but a strong cybersecurity background or someone who more closely mirrors the customer base.

Take a truly analytical approach. Developing the optimal mix on the board calls for considering risks, opportunities, and markets, as well as customers, employees, and other stakeholders. A data-driven analytics tool that assesses management’s strategies, the board’s needs, and desired director attributes can help define the optimal mix in light of those factors.

Use more sophisticated criteria. Look beyond resumes and check-the-box approaches to recruiting women, minorities, and those with the right title. Surface-level diversity will not necessarily generate varying perspectives and innovative responses to disruption. Deep inquiry into a candidate’s outlook, experience, and fit can take the board beyond standard criteria, while prompting the board to more fully consider women and minority candidates—that is, to not see them mainly as women and minority candidates.

To construct and maintain a board that can meet evolving governance, advisory, and risk oversight needs, leaders should also consider the following steps.

 

Rethink risk

 

Digitalization continues to disrupt the business landscape. The ability to not only respond to disruption, but to proactively disrupt, has commonly become a must. Yet boards have historically focused on loss prevention rather than value creation. Every board should ask itself who best can help in ascertaining that management is taking the right risks to innovate and win in the marketplace. The more diversity of thought, perspectives, experiences, and skills a board collectively possesses, the better it can oversee moves into riskier territory in an informed and useful way—and to assist management in making bold decisions that are likely to pay off.

 

Elevate diversity

 

Current definitions of board diversity tend to focus on at-birth traits, such as gender and race. While such diversity is essential, it may promote a check-the-box approach to gender and racial diversity. Boards that include those traits and also enrich them by considering differences gained through employment paths, industry experiences, educational, artistic, and cultural endeavors, international living, and government, military, and other service will more likely achieve a true mix of perspectives
and capabilities.

They may also develop a more holistic vision of gender and racial diversity. After all, woman and minority board members do not want to be “women and minority board members”—they want to be board members. In other words, this approach should aim to generate a fuller view of candidates and board members, as well as more diversity of skills and perspectives and gender and race.

 

Retool board composition

 

Current tools for achieving an optimal mix of directors can generally be classified as simplistic, generic, and outdated. They often help in organizing information, but provide little to no support in identifying strategic needs and aligning a board’s skills, perspectives, and experiences with those needs.

Successful board composition typically demands analysis of data on organizational strategies, customer demographics, industry disruption, and market trends to identify gaps and opportunities. A board should consider not only individual member’s profiles but also assess the board as one working body to ascertain that complementary characteristics and capabilities are in place or can be put in place.

A tool to support this analysis should be the initial input into the succession planning and recruitment process. It should also be used in ongoing assessments to help ensure that the board equals a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Revitalize succession planning

 

The process of filling an open board position may be seen as similar to that for recruiting C-suite candidates. But that would ignore the fact that the board is a collection of individuals rather than a single role. An approach geared to creating a mixtocracy can strengthen the board by combining individual differences in a deliberate manner. Differing gender and ethnic backgrounds as well as skills, perspectives, and experiences can make for more rigorous, far-reaching, and thought-provoking discussions, inquiries, and challenges. This can enable the board to provide a more effective counterbalance to management as well as better support in areas such as innovation, disruption, and assessments of strategies, decisions, and underlying assumptions.

In plans for board succession, the uniqueness of thought an individual will bring to the table can be as important as his or her more ostensible characteristics and accomplishments.

 

Toward greater board diversity

 

Given its responsibility to provide guidance on strategy, oversight of risk, governance of practices, and protection of shareholders’ interests, the board arguably has a greater need for diversity than the C-suite, where diversity also enriches management. The path forward remains long, but it is becoming increasing clear as boards continue to work toward achieving greater diversity on multiple fronts.

____________________________________

Endnotes

1 2016 Boards Practices Report – A transparent look at the work of the board. Tenth edition, 2017, Society for Corporate Governance and Deloitte Development LLC.(go back)

2 ibid.(go back)

3 ibid.(go back)

4 Missing Pieces Report: The 2016 Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards, 2017, Deloitte Development LLC.(go back)


*The 2017 board diversity survey was conducted in spring 2017 among 300 board members and C-suite executives at U.S. companies with at least $50 million in annual revenue and at least 1,000 employees. Conducted by Wakefield Research via an email invitation and online questionnaire, the survey sought to ascertain respondents’ perspectives on board diversity and their organizations’ criteria and practices for recruiting and selecting board members. The margin of error for this study is +/- 5.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 28 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 28 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

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  1. Top 5 Things Shareholder Activists Need to Know
  2. Analysis of Final Tax Reform Legislation
  3. Analysis of ISS’ Proxy Voting Guidelines
  4. The Information Content of Dividends: Safer Profits, Not Higher Profits
  5. Advising Shareholders in Takeovers
  6. SEC Cyber Unit and Allegedly Fraudulent ICO
  7. Board Composition: A Slow Evolution
  8. Do Activists Turn Bad Bidders into Good Acquirers?
  9. Appraisal Litigation Update
  10. The Legal Validity of Oral Agreements with Activist Investors

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 21 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 21 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

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  1. Revised FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy
  2. Analysis of 2018 Revenue Recognition Rules
  3. Analysis of Two-Step Merger With Uninformed Stockholder Consent
  4. Matters to Consider for the 2018 Annual Meeting
  5. 2017 Board Diversity Survey
  6. Proposed Revisions to the UK’s Corporate Governance Regime
  7. Meaningful Limits on Director Pay
  8. Passive Fund Providers and Investment Stewardship
  9. The Limits of Shareholder Ratification for Discretionary Director Compensation
  10. Finding the Right Balance in Appraisal Litigation: Deal Price, Deal Process, and Synergies

 

Évolution dans la composition des conseils d’administration aux É.U.


Les changements apportés à la gouvernance des entreprises passent souvent par un renouvellement du membership du conseil d’administration.

Le document publié par Spencer Stuart intitulé 2017 Spencer Stuart Board Index montre que les pressions sont de plus en plus grandes, notamment de la part des investisseurs institutionnels, pour moduler la composition du CA.

Ainsi, tel que le rapporte Julie Daum, Laurel McCarthy et Ann Yerger, dans une publication de Spencer Stuart, les changements sont assez importants, bien que jugés encore trop lents.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous un résumé de cette publication ainsi que dix (10) suggestions à considérer afin de poursuivre dans la voie du renouvellement de la composition des conseils d’administration.

En cette période des fêtes de Noël et de la nouvelle année, je vous souhaite une lecture agréable et profitable.

Jacques Grisé, Ph. D., F.Adm.A.

Éditeur de ce blogue en gouvernance

 

Board Composition: A Slow Evolution

 

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Conseils d’administration : mesdames, il y a des places à prendre !

 

Interest in the composition of U.S. boards has never been greater. Pressure for change is coming from many fronts, particularly from institutional and activist investors. We have been tracking board composition issues for more than 30 years, and as the data from our 2017 Spencer Stuart Board Index show, U.S. boards are evolving, slowly.

– The number of new independent directors elected to S&P 500 boards during the 2017 proxy year rose to 397, the most since 2004 and an increase of 15% from 2016.

– For the first time in the history of our survey, just over half (50.1%) of incoming independent directors on S&P 500 boards are women or minorities.

– A record-breaking 45% of the new S&P 500 independent directors are serving on their first public company board.

– Boards are seeking talent beyond C-suite chairs, CEOs, presidents or COOs. Slightly more than a third of new independent directors are active or retired C-suite executives, down from 47% 10 years ago.

– Fewer active CEOs serve on boards. Today only 37% of S&P 500 CEOs serve on one or more outside public company boards, down from 52% 10 years ago.

Calls for greater boardroom diversity—encompassing considerations such as gender, race, age, skills, qualifications and backgrounds—are on the rise. And boards are responding.

Director skills and experiences are changing. Nearly 20% of new independent S&P 500 directors have experience in the technology or telecommunications industries. Directors with backgrounds in banking, finance, investment or accounting are in high demand, representing 29% of new directors in 2017, up from 19% in 2007. Of this group, directors with investing and investment management experience are of particular interest. Thirteen percent (13%) of new directors come from the investment field, up from 5% a decade ago; less than 20% of these directors were appointed under publicized settlements with activist investors.

S&P 500 boards are opening their doors to directors without prior public board experience. These first-time independent directors are more likely than other new directors to be actively employed (64% versus 42%). They are less likely to be C-suite executives and more likely to have other executive experiences, such as division or subsidiary leadership. They are younger, with an average age of 55.2, compared to 57.3 for other incoming independent directors. They are also more likely to be diverse; more than half (55%) of this year’s incoming first-time directors are women or minorities, a significant jump from 37% a year ago.

Female representation among all new independent S&P 500 directors rose to 36% in 2017—the highest percentage we’ve ever tracked—while 20% of incoming independent directors are minorities, defined as African-American, Hispanic/Latino or Asian. (Six percent of the new directors are women and minorities.) Women are increasingly assuming leadership roles on S&P 500 boards, chairing 20% of audit committees, 17% of compensation committees and 22% of nominating committees, up from 15%, 11% and 20%, respectively, in 2016.

Despite these steps forward, the overall pace of change in boardroom diversity remains slow. With 48% of S&P 500 boards adding no directors, board turnover continues to be low and hinders change to the overall composition of U.S. boardrooms.

– Today 22% of all S&P 500 directors are women, up incrementally from 21% in 2016 and 17% in 2012.

– Minority representation at the top 200 S&P 500 companies is low. Seventeen percent (17%) of directors of the top 200 companies are male or female minorities, and representation of African-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos in the top 200 boardrooms has not significantly changed over the past five to 10 years.

Boardroom refreshment faces other headwinds. About three-quarters (73%) of S&P 500 boards report having a mandatory retirement age for directors, unchanged over the past five years, and boards continue to raise retirement ages. Today 42% of S&P 500 companies with retirement policies set their retirement age at 75 or older, compared with 22% in 2012 and just 11% in 2007. Meanwhile, the percentage of S&P 500 companies disclosing some form of individual director assessments is low (37%) and largely unchanged. The data suggest that rather than using evaluations to evaluate director fit in the boardroom, boards are relying on mandatory retirement ages as a primary mechanism for board refreshment.

10 ways boards can continue to evolve

Purposeful leadership by directors is required to continue the evolution in the boardroom. In our experience working with boards, the most effective strategies for building a board composed of the diverse portfolio of skills, qualifications, perspectives and backgrounds matched to the company’s current and future strategic objectives and risks include these 10 elements:

  1. Continuously review the board’s skill sets and performance relative to the company’s strategy and direction. The annual board self-evaluation is a natural platform for the board to review its composition and future needs so that it is in the best position to oversee management as new challenges and market opportunities emerge.

  2. Expand the use of peer and self-evaluations, which can be invaluable tools for providing feedback to and enhancing the performance of new and tenured directors, and for identifying gaps in boardroom skills and experiences.

  3. Take a hard look at formal policies—such as mandatory retirement policies—intended to promote turnover and evaluate whether the policies may be impeding refreshment.

  4. Understand that boardroom diversity, defined broadly but with an emphasis on gender and racial diversity, is of growing interest not just to investors, but also to other key company stakeholders, including employees, suppliers and customers. A tangible commitment to boardroom diversity will be increasingly important, and a “one and done” mentality will be challenged more often in the future, particularly as boards plan for anticipated board vacancies. One approach is to strive to interview several qualified candidates for every open board seat.

  5. Carefully define the expertise that is important for the board—for example, industry or functional knowledge, digital expertise or international experience. Be clear about the perspectives or expertise that the board is looking to gain.

  6. Foster an open mind about what a director candidate should look like and the different ways a director can contribute. Consider senior business unit or functional leaders, including younger executives who may be experts in specific areas such as e-commerce, digital marketing and cybersecurity.

  7. Avoid creating an overly long list of director qualifications, which can limit the talent pool. Be realistic about desired director qualifications; sitting CEOs today are serving on fewer (if any) outside boards. The selection process should cast a wide net and look for the best candidate—not just the one known to board members.

  8. Consider candidates without prior board experience. When assessing first-time candidates, look at their underlying capabilities and mindset—including what we call “board intrinsics,” attributes such as intellectual approach, independent-mindedness, integrity, interpersonal skills and inclination to engage—to understand how likely they are to be able to contribute as well-rounded directors. Spencer Stuart’s Board Intrinsics™ assessment approach focuses on these critical underlying talents and competencies. Candidates who score well in all five areas are most likely to be capable of contributing as “all-round” directors, in addition to the specific knowledge, skill or set of experiences that makes them of interest to boards.

  9. Establish a robust new director orientation program. All new directors—male and female, first-time and experienced—benefit from an orientation program that helps them quickly get up to speed on the business and the company’s approach to governance.

  10. Commit to transparency about board governance practices. With investor attention to board performance on the rise, boards are enhancing their disclosure about key areas of investor interest, including board composition and leadership, director tenure and turnover, board evaluation and performance, and shareholder engagement.

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 14 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 14 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

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  1. Excluding Shareholder Proposals Based on New SLB 141
  2. Audit Committee Disclosure Trends in Proxy Statements
  3. Leverage, CEO Risk-Taking Incentives, and Bank Failure During the 2007-2010 Financial Crisis
  4. Executives in Politics
  5. Governing Through Disruption: A Boardroom Guide to 2018
  6. Critical Update Needed: Cybersecurity Expertise in the Boardroom
  7. Statement on Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings
  8. Reexamining Staggered Boards and Shareholder Value
  9. Shaped by Their Daughters: Executives, Female Socialization, and Corporate Social Responsibility
  10. Court of Chancery Dismisses Challenge to Stock Reclassification

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 7 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 7 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

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Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 


 

  1. Managerial Liability and Corporate Innovation: Evidence from a Legal Shock
  2. Analysis of Updated ISS Voting Policies
  3. Firm Age, Corporate Governance, and Capital Structure
  4. 10 Consensuses on CEO Pay Ratio Planning
  5. Institutional Investor Attention and Demand for Inconsequential Disclosures
  6. Shareholder Proposals in an Era of Reform
  7. SEC Chairman’s Remarks on Small Business Capital Formation
  8. Analysis of SEC Enforcement Division Annual Report
  9. Anatomy of Political Risk in the United States
  10. Activists at the Gate

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 30 novembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 30 novembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

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Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 

 

  1. Peer Information and Empowered Voters: Evidence from Voting on Shareholder Proposals
  2. Analysis of SEC Shareholder Proposal Guidance
  3. Five Ways to Improve Your Compensation Disclosure
  4. Gender Diversity Index
  5. Short Activism: The Rise in Anonymous Online Short Attacks
  6. Cybersecurity Risks in M&A Transactions
  7. Analysis of ISS’ QualityScore Updates
  8. Governance Improvements in 2017
  9. Virtual-Only Shareholder Meetings: Streamlining Costs or Cutting Shareholders Out?
  10. Nonvoting Common Stock: A Legal Overview

Taille du CA, limite d’âge et durée des mandats des administrateurs | En reprise


Comme je l’ai déjà évoqué dans plusieurs autres billets, il faut réfléchir très sérieusement à la taille du CA, à la limite d’âge des administrateurs ainsi qu’à la durée de leurs mandats.

Eu égard à la taille du CA, on note que les membres de conseils de petite taille :

(1) sont plus engagés dans les affaires de l’entité

(2) sont plus portés à aller en profondeur dans l’analyse stratégique

(3) entretiennent des relations plus fréquentes et plus harmonieuses avec la direction

(4) ont plus de possibilités de communiquer entre eux

(5) exercent une surveillance plus étroite des activités de la direction

(6) sont plus décisifs, cohésif et impliqués.

On constate également une tendance lourde en ce qui regarde le nombre de mandats des administrateurs de sociétés, mais que ce changement ne se fait pas sans heurt.

Plusieurs pensent que, malgré certains avantages évidents à avoir des administrateurs séniors sur les CA, cette situation est un frein à la diversité et au renouvellement des générations au sein des conseils d’administration. Je crois que les CA devraient se doter d’une politique de limite d’âge pour les administrateurs ainsi que d’une limite au cumul des mandats ?

Les conseils d’administration devraient se préoccuper de ces questions afin :

(1) d’accroître la diversité dans la composition du conseil

(2) de faciliter la nomination de femmes au sein des CA

(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.

À cet égard, voici certains extraits d’études qui présentent les changements au Canada en 2015 :

Cumul des mandats d’administrateur

« Dorénavant, un administrateur qui est chef de la direction est considéré comme cumulant trop de mandats s’il siège au conseil de plus d’une société ouverte en plus du conseil d’administration de la société qui l’emploie (auparavant, il fallait que ce soit plus de deux sociétés). Un administrateur qui n’est pas chef de la direction cumule trop de mandats lorsqu’il siège à plus de quatre conseils d’administration de sociétés ouvertes (auparavant, c’était plus de six sociétés) ».

Renouvellement des conseils d’administration

Les Autorités canadiennes en valeurs mobilières (ACVM) ont révélé que « seulement 19 % des émetteurs examinés avaient adopté une combinaison quelconque de limites à la durée des mandats et/ou de limite d’âge… Toutefois, la grande majorité des émetteurs ne se sont dotés d’aucun mécanisme officiel pour le renouvellement du conseil, à part leur processus d’évaluation des administrateurs ».

Notons que les émetteurs assujettis sont tenus de divulguer les limites à la durée du mandat des administrateurs ainsi que les mécanismes de renouvellement du conseil. S’ils ne se conforment pas, ils doivent en expliquer les raisons.

En France, par exemple, un administrateur qui a siégé à un conseil pendant plus de 12 ans n’est plus considéré comme étant indépendant. Au Royaume-Uni, le conseil doit déclarer publiquement pourquoi il croit qu’un administrateur qui a siégé plus de 9 ans est toujours considéré comme étant indépendant.

Beaucoup de conseils au Canada estiment que les limites de mandat servent un objectif, 56 % des sociétés du Canadian Spencer Stuart Board Index (CSSBI) indiquant qu’elles recourent volontairement à des limites d’âge et de mandat. Selon une récente étude de Korn Ferry International/Patrick O’Callaghan and Associates, les limites de mandat pour les entreprises canadiennes inscrites en bourse ayant été sondées oscillent entre sept et vingt ans, 53 % d’entre elles présentant une limite de mandat de 15 ans.

Voici quelques billets publiés sur mon blogue qui peuvent être utiles à un président de conseil aux prises avec ces questions délicates.

 

En rappel | Les C.A de petites tailles performent mieux !

Réflexions sur les limites d’âge des membres de conseil d’administration et sur la durée des mandats

Faut-il limiter le nombre de mandats des administrateurs ?

 

Également, j’ai joint le Rapport de Davies sur la gouvernance | Décembre 2015 au Canada en 2015.

Enfin, 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

 

Buffett’s influence

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.

« You have to refresh the board, whether it’s through term limits or through age limits, » said Charles Elson, director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Corporate Governance.

 

_______________________________________________________

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.

board diversity.jpg

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…

Bonne lecture !

Séparation des fonctions de président du conseil et de chef de la direction : retour sur un grand classique !


Voici le deuxième billet présenté par le professeur Ivan Tchotourian de la Faculté de droit de l’Université Laval, élaboré dans le cadre de son cours de maîtrise Gouvernance de l’entreprise.

Dans le cadre d’un programme de recherche, il a été proposé aux étudiants non seulement de mener des travaux sur des sujets qui font l’actualité en gouvernance de l’entreprise, mais encore d’utiliser un format original permettant la diffusion des résultats. Le présent billet expose le résultat des recherches menées par Nadia Abida, Arnaud Grospeillet, Thomas Medjir et Nathalie Robitaille.

Ce travail revient sur les arguments échangés concernant la dissociation des fonctions de président du conseil d’administration et de chef de la direction. Ce billet alimente la discussion en faisant une actualité comparative des normes et des éléments juridiques, et en présentant les dernières statistiques en ce domaine.

Le papier initial des étudiants a été retravaillé par Nadia Abida afin qu’il correspondre au style du blogue . Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires et vos points de vue sont les bienvenus.

« Je vous en souhaite bonne lecture et suis certain que vous prendrez autant de plaisir à le lire que j’ai pu en prendre à le corriger. Merci encore à Jacques de permettre la diffusion de ce travail et d’offrir ainsi la chance à des étudiants de contribuer aux riches discussions dont la gouvernance d’entreprise est l’objet ».  (Ivan Tchotourian)

 

Séparation des fonctions de président du conseil et de chef de la direction : retour sur un grand classique

 

Nadia Abida, Arnaud Grospeillet, Thomas Medjir, Nathalie Robitaille

Anciens étudiants du cours DRT-6056 Gouvernance de l’entreprise

 

La séparation entre les fonctions de président du conseil d’administration (CA) et du chef de la direction est l’un des facteurs incontournables de l’indépendance des administrateurs. Cette dernière est un indicateur de pratique de bonne gouvernance d’entreprise. Cependant, et malgré l’importance avérée de la séparation des deux fonctions, nombre d’entreprises continuent à en pratiquer le cumul. Les arguments foisonnent de part et d’autre, et ne s’accordent pas sur la nécessité de cette séparation.

redaction-des-statuts-de-sa

Un retour sur une proposition d’actionnaires de la banque JP Morgan démontre la nécessité de ne pas laisser ce sujet sans réflexions. Cette proposition en faveur d’une séparation des fonctions a été émise à la suite d’une divulgation par la société d’une perte s’élevant à 2 milliards de dollars… perte essuyée sous la responsabilité de son PDG actuel [1].

Ce n’est un secret pour personne que cette société a un passif lourd avec des pertes colossales engendrées par des comportements critiquables sur lesquels la justice a apporté un éclairage. Les conséquences de cette gestion auraient-elles été identiques si une séparation des pouvoirs avait était mise en place entre une personne agissant et une personne surveillant ?

 

Silence du droit et positions ambiguës

 

Les textes législatifs (lois ou règlements) canadiens, américains ou européens apportent peu de pistes de solution à ce débat. La plupart se montrent en effet silencieux en ce domaine faisant preuve d’une retenue étonnamment rare lorsque la gouvernance d’entreprise est débattue. Dans ses lignes directrices [2], l’OCDE – ainsi que la Coalition canadienne pour une saine gestion des Entreprises dans ses principes de gouvernance d’entreprise [3] – atteste pourtant de l’importance du cloisonnement entre les deux fonctions.

De ce cloisonnement résulte l’indépendance et l’objectivité nécessaires aux décisions prises par le conseil d’administration. Au Canada, le comité Saucier dans son rapport de 2001 et le rapport du Milstein center [4] ont mis en exergue l’importance d’une telle séparation. En comparaison, la France s’est montrée plus discrète et il n’a pas été question de trancher dans son Code de gouvernement d’entreprise des sociétés cotées (même dans sa version amendée de 2013) [5] : ce dernier ne privilégie ainsi ni la séparation ni le cumul des deux fonctions [6].

 

Quelques chiffres révélateurs

 

Les études contemporaines démontrent une nette tendance en faveur de la séparation des deux rôles. Le Canadian Spencer Stuart Board Index [7] estime qu’une majorité de 85 % des 100 plus grandes entreprises canadiennes cotées en bourse ont opté pour la dissociation entre les deux fonctions. Dans le même sens, le rapport Clarkson affiche que 84 % des entreprises inscrites à la bourse de Toronto ont procédé à ladite séparation [8]. Subsistent cependant encore de nos jours des entreprises canadiennes qui  permettent le cumul. L’entreprise Air Transat A.T. Inc en est la parfaite illustration : M. Jean-Marc Eustache est à la fois président du conseil et chef de la direction. A contrario, le fond de solidarité de la Fédération des travailleurs du Québec vient récemment de procéder à la séparation des deux fonctions. Aux États-Unis en 2013, 45 % des entreprises de l’indice S&P500 (au total 221 entreprises) dissocient les rôles de PDG et de président du conseil. Toutefois, les choses ne sont pas aussi simples qu’elles y paraissent : 27 % des entreprises de cet indice ont recombiné ces deux rôles [9]. Évoquons à ce titre le cas de Target Corp dont les actionnaires ont refusé la dissociation des deux fonctions [10].

 

Il faut séparer les fonctions !

 

Pendant longtemps, il a été d’usage au sein des grandes sociétés par actions, que le poste de président du conseil soit de l’apanage du chef de la direction. Selon les partisans du non cumul, fusionner ces deux fonctions revient néanmoins à réunir dans une seule main un trop grand pouvoir et des prérogatives totalement antagonistes, voir même contradictoires. En ce sens, Yvan Allaire [11] souligne qu’il est malsain pour le chef de la direction de présider aussi le conseil d’administration. Rappelons que le CA nomme, destitue, rémunère et procède à l’évaluation du chef de la direction. La séparation des deux fonctions trouve pleinement son sens ici puisqu’elle crée une contre mesure du pouvoir : le président du CA est chargé du contrôle permanent de la gestion, et le directeur général est en situation de subordination par rapport au CA.

Sous ce contrôle, le directeur général ne peut être que plus diligent et prudent dans l’exercice de ses fonctions, puisqu’il doit en rendre compte au CA. Des idées et décisions confrontées et débattues sont de loin plus constructives que des décisions prises de manière unilatérale. N’y a-t-il pas plus d’esprit dans deux têtes que dans une comme le dit le proverbe ? De plus, les partisans du non cumul avancent d’autres arguments. Il en va ainsi de la rémunération de la direction. Le cumul des deux fonctions irait de pair avec la rémunération conséquente. Celui qui endosse les deux fonctions est enclin à prendre des risques qui peuvent mettre en péril les intérêts financiers de la société pour obtenir une performance et un rendement qui justifieraient une forte rémunération. Par ailleurs, le cumul peut entrainer une négligence des deux rôles au profit de l’un ou de l’autre. Aussi, le choix du non cumul s’impose lorsque l’implication de la majorité ou encore, de la totalité des actionnaires ou membres dans la gestion quotidienne de la société, est faible. Cette séparation permet en effet aux actionnaires ou aux membres d’exercer une surveillance adéquate de la direction et de la gestion quotidienne de ladite société [12].

 

Attention à la séparation !

 

Nonobstant les arguments cités plus haut, la séparation des deux fonctions ne représente pas nécessairement une meilleure gestion du conseil d’administration. Les partisans du cumul clament que non seulement l’endossement des deux fonctions par une seule personne unifie les ordres et réduit les couts de l’information, mais que c’est aussi un mécanisme d’incitation pour les nouveaux chefs en cas de transition. Cela se traduit par la facilité de remplacer une seule personne qui détient les deux pouvoirs, à la place de remplacer deux personnes. Par ailleurs, la séparation limiterait l’innovation et diluerait le pouvoir d’un leadership effectif [13] en augmentant la rivalité entre les deux responsables pouvant même aller jusqu’à semer la confusion.

 

Coûts et flexibilité du choix

 

En dépit de la critique classique du cumul des fonctions, les deux types de structures sont potentiellement sources de bénéfices et de coûts, bénéfices et coûts que les entreprises vont peser dans leur choix de structure. Les coûts de la théorie de l’agence impliquent des arrangements institutionnels lorsqu’il y a séparation entre les fonctions de président et de chef de la direction [14]. Ces coûts sont occasionnés par exemple par la surveillance du CA sur le chef de la direction. Il devient plus cher de séparer les deux fonctions que de les unifier.

Cependant, une antithèse présentée par Andrea Ovans [15] soutient qu’au contraire il est plus cher d’unifier les deux fonctions que de les séparer. Comment ? Simplement à travers la rémunération (salaire de base, primes, incitations, avantages, stock-options, et les prestations de retraite). L’imperméabilité entre les deux fonctions qui apparaît comme « la » solution en matière de bonne gouvernance pourrait ne pas l’être pour toutes les entreprises.

Si le cumul des fonctions et les autres mécanismes de surveillance fonctionnement bien, pourquoi faudrait-il prévoir un changement ? De surcroit, le « one size fits all » n’est pas applicable en la matière. Devrait-on prévoir les mêmes règles en termes de séparation pour les grandes et petites entreprises ? Rien n’est moins sûr… Le cumul des fonctions apparaît plus adapté aux entreprises de petite taille : ceci est dû à la fluidité de communication entre les deux responsables et à la faiblesse de la quantité d’informations à traiter [16].


[1] Investors seek to split JP Morgan CEO, Chairman http://www.wfaa.com/news/business/192146051.html, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 12 Juillet 2014.

[2] http://www.oecd.org/fr/gouvernementdentreprise/ae/gouvernancedesentreprisespubliques/34803478.pdf, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 12 juillet 2014. Dans le même sens, voir l’instruction générale 85-201 et le rapport Cadbury en 1992.

[3] CCGG : Principes de gouvernance d’entreprise pour la mise en place de conseils d’administration performants, http://www.ccgg.ca/site/ccgg/assets/pdf/Principes_de_gouvernance.pdf, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 12 juillet 2014

[4] « Split CEO/Chair Roles: The Geteway to Good Governance? », http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/FacultyAndResearch/ResearchCentres/ClarksonCentreforBoardEffectiveness/CCBEpublications/SplitCEO.aspx, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 18 juillet 2014.

[5] Code de gouvernement d’entreprise des sociétés cotées (révisé en juin 2013), http://www.medef.com/fileadmin/www.medef.fr/documents/AFEP-MEDEF/Code_de_gouvernement_d_entreprise_des_societes_cotees_juin_2013_FR.pdf, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 15 juillet 2014.

[6] L’Union européenne ne s’est pas prononcée sur la séparation des deux fonctions. Voir à ce propos Richard Leblanc.

[7] Canadian Spencer Stuart Board Index 2013, https://www.spencerstuart.com/~/media/Canadian-Board-Index-2013_27Jan2014.pdf, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 12 Juillet 2014 ; p. 19.

[8] Public Submissions on Governance Issues, http://www.powercorporation.com/en/governance/public-submissions-governance-issues/may-12-2014-canada-business-corporations-act/#_ftn12, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 18 juillet 2014.

[9] Spencer Stuart Board Index 2013 (US), https://www.spencerstuart.com/~/media/PDF%20Files/Research%20and%20Insight%20PDFs/SSBI13%20revised%2023DEC2013.pdf, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 25 juillet 2014.

[10] Target shareholders narrowly reject splitting CEO, Chairman posts, http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2014/06/13/target-shareholders-narrowly-reject-splitting-ceo.html, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 18 juillet 2014.

[11] Yvan Allaire, « Un « bon » président du CA ? », http://droit-des-affaires.blogspot.ca/2007/11/un-bon-prsident-du-ca.html, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 23 juillet 2014.

[12] À ce propos, voir André Laurin, « La fonction de président de conseil d’administration », http://www.lavery.ca/upload/pdf/fr/DS_080203f.pdf, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 21 juillet 2014, p. 2.

[13] Aiyesha Dey, Ellen Engel and Xiaohui Gloria Liu, « CEO and Board Chair Roles: to Split or not to Split? », December 16, 2009, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1412827, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 22 juillet 2014.

[14] Idem.

[15] Voir Coûts élevés associés à la combinaison des rôles du président du conseil et du président de la société : https://jacquesgrisegouvernance.com/2014/06/29/couts-eleves-associes-a-la-combinaison-des-roles-du-president-du-conseil-et-du-president-de-la-societe/, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 21 juillet 2014.

[16] Aiyesha Dey, « What JPMorgan Shareholders Should Know About Splitting the CEO and Chair Roles », Research, http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/05/research-what-jpmorgan-shareho/, <en ligne>, date de consultation : 21 juillet 2014.

L’utilisation des huis clos lors des sessions de C.A. *


Voici un article intéressant de Matthew Scott sur le site de Corporate Secretary qui aborde un sujet qui préoccupe beaucoup de hauts dirigeants : le huis clos lors des sessions du conseil d’administration ou de certains comités. L’auteur explique très bien la nature et la nécessité de cette activité à inscrire à l’ordre du jour du conseil.

Compte tenu de la « réticence » de plusieurs hauts dirigeants à la tenue de cette activité, il est généralement reconnu que cet item devrait toujours être présent à l’ordre du jour afin d’éliminer certaines susceptibilités.

Le huis clos est un temps privilégié que les administrateurs indépendants se donnent pour se questionner sur l’efficacité du conseil et la possibilité d’améliorer la dynamique interne; mais c’est surtout une occasion pour les membres de discuter librement, sans la présence des gestionnaires, de sujets délicats tels que la planification de la relève, la performance des dirigeants, la rémunération globale de la direction, les poursuites légales, les situations de conflits d’intérêts, les arrangements confidentiels, etc. On ne rédige généralement pas de procès-verbal à la suite de cette activité, sauf lorsque les membres croient qu’une résolution doit absolument apparaître au P.V.

La mise en place d’une période de huis clos est une pratique relativement récente, depuis que les conseils d’administration ont réaffirmé leur souveraineté sur la gouvernance des entreprises. Cette activité est maintenant considérée comme une pratique exemplaire de gouvernance et presque toutes les sociétés l’ont adoptée.

Notons que le rôle du président du conseil, en tant que premier responsable de l’établissement de l’agenda, est primordial à cet égard. C’est lui qui doit informer le PCD de la position des membres indépendants à la suite du huis clos, un exercice qui demande du tact !

Je vous invite à lire l’article ci-dessous. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

Are you using in-camera meetings ?

More companies are encouraging candid exchange among independent directors without management present

As corporate boards face more complex and difficult decisions, they may want to consider increasing the use of in-camera meetings to get more ‘realistic’ opinions from directors before moving forward with corporate strategy.

In-camera meetings, as they are called in Canada – or executive sessions, as they are referred to in the US – are special meetings where independent directors or committees of the board convene separately from management to have candid, off-the-record discussions about matters that are important to the company.

English: SOS Meetings Logo
English: SOS Meetings Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term ‘In camera’ derives from Latin and refers to ‘in a chamber’ which is a legal term meaning ‘in private.’ During these meetings, independent board members are free to challenge each other and speak their mind freely because minutes are generally not taken. Such meetings could be held to discuss and clarify the board’s position on issues that may produce opposing views between management and the board or to deal with issues that could involve conflicts of interest with management, such as CEO compensation.

‘In-camera meetings allow directors to talk about their view of matters without management present,’ says Jo-Anne Archibald, president of DSA Corporate Services. ‘They can talk about anything related to the company and they don’t have to worry about it being written down anywhere.’


* En reprise