As recently as 5 years ago, the director onboarding process at many companies was pretty basic: orientation, review of corporate governance documents & business info, and some management meetings. But with a growing number of first-time directors – and expectations that boards will oversee amorphous E&S issues, corporate culture, cybersecurity, macro-economic & political events – director onboarding has become more important and has expanded in scope.
A WSJ article from earlier this week outlines “new” strategies that can make director onboarding more effective. I was very happy to see Primerica’s Stacy Geer as a source on how she’s used virtual meetings to update their onboarding program. Here’s an excerpt:
She says that the flexibility of online meetings meant the company no longer needs to line up all meetings with management over one or two days. Its new program lasts around a month and includes 15 to 20 meetings with executives, covering topics including strategy, enterprise risk, the role of a director and director liability, she says. It also includes an overview of the board portal and a greater focus on ESG matters, the role of a corporation, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Other recommendations from the article include providing more opportunities for directors to interact with employees and get a feel for company culture, and education on current macro-factors that are affecting the company’s business and are of interest to shareholders.
Corporate governance is a journey. Some companies are further down the path on this particular aspect, and have been employing a lot of the practices mentioned in this article for years – e.g., setting up a months-long program that arranges for a board mentor, site visits, etc. In fact, our “Director Onboarding” checklist reflects most of the recommendations from the article. So, if you’re not already incorporating some or all of these elements in your program, you wouldn’t be going too far out on a limb to suggest a change, if you think it would help your board.
If you’re already a leader, please drop me a note with things that have worked particularly well for you, and we’ll add them to our checklist to help the community! Email me at email@example.com.
– Liz Dunshee