Boards Update Onboarding Methods

Directors with tech expertise who have joined boards in the past three years have several things in common: Many have worked for Facebook, Google or other Silicon Valley companies; they are at least a decade younger than their fellow directors; and they have never served on a public company board before. Thus, onboarding and support for such directors in the first six to 12 months on the board — essentially the first four board meetings — is critical. For some boards, this may mean updating the company’s current onboarding materials and appointing a director to keep in contact with the new board member and provide ongoing feedback. “So many boards haven’t brought on a new director in years,” says Jennifer Christensen, managing partner with JWC Partners. “They haven’t had to think about director orientation.” Data published in May by search firm Heidrick & Struggles shows that board turnover among Fortune 500 companies increased to 8.5% in 2015, from 6.8% in 2014, the highest rate since 2009. Of the 399 directors who joined Fortune 500 company boards in 2015, 14% brought technology expertise, Heidrick’s research shows.

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