London Stock Exchange Group webinar asks who would want to be a NED? drawing on data from MM&K’s latest Life in the Boardroom survey of board Chairs and NEDs

February 9, 2022

On Wednesday 9th February, Paul Norris, CEO of MM&K joined an expert panel at the London Stock Exchange, alongside First Flight Non-Executive Directors, Board Excellence and Women on Boards to discuss who would want to be a NED in light of the findings of Life in the Boardroom MM&K’s latest iteration of our biennial survey of Chairs and NEDs.

The results of the 2021-22 study identified a growing concern about increased demands placed upon NEDs.

The webinar started by Paul introducing the 2021/22 Life in the Boardroom report and summarising some of its key findings, which are directly relevant to the question; “who would want to be a NED?” Those findings, which reflect the responses of Chairs and NEDs who participated in the survey, give valuable insights into the NED role and are examined in more detail in a separate article which can be found here.

The webinar moderator asked the panel a number of penetrating questions. When asked; “how to ensure that boards are fit-for-purpose?”, Kieran Moynihan – Managing Partner at Board Excellence, noted that there is a growing focus on performance and that investors and stakeholders are anxious for the “black box” of the boardroom to be opened, to see that every member of the boardroom is genuinely pulling their weight and adding significant value.

In response to a question about progress on board diversity, Naomi Scott-Mackie – Senior Consultant at First Flight Non-Executive Directors, said that ESG has completely taken over the scene. Greater diversity tends to produce clearer thinking about ESG. Those companies that have a have a clear ESG policy are attracting a different level of candidate.

Fiona Hathorn, CEO of Women on Boards, who was asked about her views on inspiring more individuals from diverse social and economic backgrounds to join boards, commented that diverse teams perform better, but only if the board possesses the right management skills. A diverse group of individuals, from different backgrounds will often work harder and raise the bar, but they need to be listened to and encouraged. Education about board structures and functions is key.

Responding to the moderator’s questions about NEDs’ fees, Paul Norris pointed to a concern among survey participants that their pay has not evolved in line with the growing demands of their role. This has adversely affected the risk/reward balance for NEDs. There are opportunities to attract NEDs of the highest calibre through remuneration, but a lot depends on corporate culture and the size and type of business. Engagement with investors is essential but inconsistent interpretation of corporate governance guidance by investors and their proxy agents can prove to be a significant constraint in practice.

The above are only some highlights of the discussion that took place during the webinar. To watch the full recording please click here.

Non-participants can purchase the 2021/22 Life in the Boardroom report. Please contact us here.

Find out more about Life in the Boardroom here.

Download a preview of the report here.

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