The role of the board continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace. Increasing complexity of the business environment – from cybersecurity and digitalization to higher expectations and scrutiny from shareholder groups and wider society – are changing the board’s priorities and demands on its time.
At our recent KPMG Belgium Board Leadership Center Seminar held on 12 November 2019, we had a conversation with Bert De Graeve, whom with over 30 years of board and C-level experience is one of the most seasoned board chairpersons in Belgium. One thing the majority of the companies he served, or still serves, on the board of have in common, is their variety of shareholders’, each with its distinct views and interests – family-owned, majority or reference shareholders, minority shareholders and even activists. Front and center in his board work in all these companies is relentlessly advocating long-term value creation, not only to management but evenly towards all types of shareholders. With this in mind, he shared his experience, top priorities and tips for boards. Please find below an extract of the key discussion items and thought provoking views.
People talk about ‘values’ but when the only value that seems to matter is that of the dollar, that is short-term thinking. Short-termism is increasing from all angles, even from family shareholders.
To be successful, organizations and boards need integrity and transparency. These together build trust.
The ‘must have’ for all board members is social capability, or ‘people skills’ – the ability to interact at board level.
Do not sit back thinking, “this won’t happen to us”, or you will be surprised.
Enable trust through transparency! Be prepared! Think twice and motivate it!
The Board Leadership Center offers non-executive and executive board members and those working closely with them (including CROs and Heads of Internal Audit) a place within a community of board-level peers and access to topical seminars and ‘lunch and learn’ Board Academy sessions, invaluable resources and thought leadership, and lively and engaging networking opportunities.