The sooner, the better
There’s nothing quite like solving a problem at its source. And that’s the approach under way at London Business School. In an article for Times Higher Education, LBS’s executive director, Arnold Longboy, describes the school’s approach to addressing diversity in the business world—through the talent pipeline.
“Recruitment strategies must break new ground if we’re serious about overcoming decades of inequality. That means standing back, throwing out the rulebook and being genuinely creative about how you might reach people who have never considered a business education before.”
Well said, Arnold.
A bone to pick
Board director quality is poor, well, at least in the US, according to a commentator writing in Forbes. Harry G. Broadman, a veteran board director, executive coach and expert witness, writes that statistics show the recruitment market for directors in the US has “ossified”; the market for independent directors is “tepid” and “far from being the paragon of robust competition”.
Ruminating on the independent director job recruitment market, Broadman writes; “The distortions are akin to perverse outcomes that would arise if companies selling superior services are edged out of markets by rivals with inferior offerings.”
Broadman reckons this isn’t just a problem at the company level but also at the economy level as the US competes with markets such as China and elsewhere.
To correct the problem, Broadman argues, measures are needed to reduced barriers to entry and ease the exit of old guard directors.
“If we want fleet-footed business to outcompete our rivals abroad, including China, our firms will need to be overseen by governance regimes that are agile themselves,” he concludes.
Cue boardroom meetings where everyone is looking at each other and wondering who’s clogging up the works.
Staying in the US, we find a Delaware court has ruled for the first time that company officers—not just directors—have a fiduciary duty of “oversight”.
In this case, it was in relation to a case brought by investors against David Fairhurst, the former “global people officer” at McDonald’s, whom they allege failed in his corporate duties by “allowing a corporate culture to develop that condoned sexual harassment and misconduct”.
The claim stems from the sacking in 2019 of former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook over a relationship with an employee.
Whether this ruling opens the flood gates is anybody’s guess, but the D&O insurers will no doubt be bracing for impact.
Kind hearts and correlates
Women may not be receiving the useful feedback they need to progress in business careers because of a “kindness bias”, according to new research.
An investigation finds that managers favour “kindness” when commentating on the work of female employees. This may mean woman are not hearing what they need to know to improve.
An article penned by a team of researchers from London Business School and INSEAD says: “Inaccurate, unhelpful, or unclear feedback (even when motivated by a desire to be kind) can end up obscuring critical growth opportunities and cause women to be less likely to get important job assignments, raises or promotions.
“At the same time, a lack of kindness in feedback to men may inhibit their growth, harm their well being, and contribute to a workplace culture imbued with toxic gender norms.”
Right, so that all needs sorting out.
Send us Victorias
Now to perhaps the most disappointing bit of business commentary out this week: Martha Lane Fox, founder of Lastminute.com, writes in The Times that, as a team building exercise, she favours “karaoke” over sharing “cake” in the office.
You may recall reports in recent weeks suggesting that taking cake into the office was like “passive smoking” for those struggling with their health and weight.
It didn’t really say that but, anyway, the point is: karaoke is insane. Anyone with an ounce of sense wouldn’t want to be in a team with yours truly after hearing Board Agenda’s vocal talents. Call us old fashioned, we much prefer fresh cream or strawberry jam, possibly both, as a bonding agent.