Five Takeaways From Conference

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The 2012 Board Leadership Conference closed this Tuesday. The following are five takeaways, according to NACD’s Research team:

  1. Diversity: The subject of the 2012 NACD Blue Ribbon Commission Report and a key point of the final day’s discussions, is that in today’s rapidly changing economic climate, diversity is a business imperative. A board’s performance relies on the knowledge of its company and operating environment. As such, board composition should reflect the company’s employees and consumers.
  2. Cybersecurity: Risk oversight, a top board priority according to the 2012-2013 NACD Public Company Governance Survey, is an area expanding seemingly day by day. Coupled with the rapid pace of technological advancement, directors must become educated on the potential risks posed by cybersecurity. Newer platforms such as cloud and mobile computing can make data security a crisis situation quickly.
  3. Social Media: As noted in several breakout sessions and a focus area of Sunday’s Audit Board Committee forum, social media presents a real risk to a company’s brand management. Outlined in this handout from KPMG, social media has an “aggressive” time frame, requiring the establishment of monitoring/mediation practices, enhancement of crisis response practices, and reputational risk management.
  4. Uncertainty: The tumultuous legislative and political environment is manifested in corporate decisions, a theme observed by Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini and Economist Leo Abruzzese. According to Abruzzese, corporate profits have rebounded to a 50-year high. Although companies have the means to resume hiring, uncertainty in the geopolitical climate has stopped them from doing so. Consumers drive 70 percent of the economy, but without jobs they are not able to do so.
  5. Globalization: Whether it was in a discussion regarding the state of the economy, diversity in the board room or technological advancements, the need to have a global view was pervasive. In a session on leadership in a changing arena, Dr. Ronald Sugar, director of Chevron and Apple, observed that one “cannot unring the bell. Globalization is happening.” From his perspective, every company is global, whether or not it has international competitors, customers, or operations.   

For the session materials from the 2012 Board Leadership Conference, click here.

For videos of all the plenary sessions, click here.

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