Appointing a board director is not what it used to be.

Four forces are pounding the boardrooms of Europe’s companies: market volatility and economic instability, more regulatory pressure, a demand for greater diversity (both gender and broader), and growing shareholder activism. To compound complexity, there has been a change over the last decade in board nominations processes, primarily as a response to new waves of corporate governance guidelines.

The changes highlighted throughout this study are a clear pointer that the age of Europe’s boardrooms as “an old boys’ network” is over. Recruiting directors among friends and business acquaintances is heavily criticised and the few boards that still do so stand out. What is emerging is the “battle-ready board,” diversified in gender and thinking, equipped with the skills and competencies tailored to the strategy of the company, and well able to meet the challenges that European businesses will face in the coming years.

'Beyond the Old Boys' Network: What’s happening in European boardrooms and a guide to best practices' is a joint report by the European Confederation of Director Associations (ecoDa) and executive search organisation Korn Ferry.