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10 trends changing the conversation in boardrooms in 2016

Edited by Divina Paredes | July 15, 2016
From Brexit to the ‘Uber economy’, the WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) Foundation lists issues expected to disrupt the fundamental business model.

4. Going beyond the race for market share

"If you focus only on your market share, this is limiting; the guy who had the greatest market share in buggy whips felt real good about that until Ford invented the motor - then it didn't matter what his market share was in the buggy business," says the Honorable Frances Townsend, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Government, Legal and Business Affairs, MacAndrews and Forbes, and former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush. "You can think of organic growth and rely on your legacy business. But, over time, the company has to shift and invest its time, energy, and money as well as its intellectual capital in growing its digital and mobile businesses, because that's where the future is. If you only focus on your bricks-and-mortar payout, you're going to die."

5. Thinking about the unthinkable

"To me, the biggest crisis today is the shortsightedness in many boardrooms, and I'm not speaking of quarterly results," says Elaine La Roche, Director at Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., and CEO, China International Capital Corporation US. "By our very nature, we were born to be optimistic, and as leaders both in management and on boards, we want to focus on the bright horizons and not the black swans. It's not in the DNA of management and boardrooms to really think about the unthinkable, to be frightened and concerned. But because of the world in which we operate today, there is a need for the board to act not only in an oversight capacity but to think of it as being a disruptor - to think about the 'unthinkable' happening at our companies and in our world, and positioning our companies to be prepared."

6. Setting the right tone at the top

When it comes to judgment around risk management, employees will follow the example set by their boardrooms. "As a board member you must really show that you care about risk management, that you care about the controls, that you don't think that compliance is annoying," says Marina Brogi, Director of Luxottica Group and Salini Impregilo. "In some companies, the message that trickles down is: if you can make more money for the company, it's a good idea - whatever it takes. This is not good. At the board level, it's important that we put in the time on risk management and that we care and that we show we care. The fact is that every single employee can make the difference - the unethical actions of even a single employee can have an impact on the entire company and greatly mar its reputation."

7. Engaging employees with the mission

 

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