US Board Composition: Male, Stale and Frail?

A Financial Times analysis of data from the shareholder advisory group ISS Analytics shows US boards are “maler, staler and frailer” than their European counterparts, having directors who are older on average, stay in post longer and are less likely to be women. There is a straight line between the ensconced position of many board members — the average tenure of Chipotle’s current directors is 13 years, five years more than the US average — and a “slow, superficial and unconvincing” response to the safety issues, according to CtW Investment Group, which represents union pension funds and wrote a thunderous public letter to fellow shareholders. Shareholders of companies around the world have long fought to get the basics of boardroom accountability right. Yet many still express dissatisfaction with the quality of candidates and the make-up of even large corporate boards, especially in the US, which has been slower to hand shareholders rights that have been common elsewhere for years, thanks to standards like the 1992 Cadbury Code in the UK. There are increasing calls for companies to create more board seats for minorities and women and for “board refreshment” to sweep away vestiges of the clubroom atmosphere. (FT)

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