Board Governance

CEOs: How to Recruit Your Boss — Board Members Who Increase Your Bottom Line

Kim Clancy video interviews Penny Herscher on HOPTalks.

Hear the following take-aways:

*How to understand the role of the activist type investor.
*Learn the value of educating and networking one’s way including the use of a recruiter, onto a board.
*Hear how the diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, opinions lead to better board decision making.
*How stressing the importance of needing to see a diverse candidate range is the CEOs role.
*How a diverse management team is more successful at delivering better financial results.

Thanksgiving epiphany — respecting cultural differences.

My Thanksgiving this year was the typical blend of fun and stress, as I hosted a feast for an international crowd. And while I wasn’t exactly expecting any epiphanies, certainly not about how to respect people’s cultural differences, that’s exactly what I got — and I am thankful for it.

I live in San Francisco, one of the most liberal and welcoming cities in the world. My boyfriend was visiting for a couple of weeks. He lives in another country, where he was born and raised. He spent his childhood in a remote, mountainous village where his mother and grandmother cooked in a one-room stone home with a hole in the ground for overnight baking. He is now a chef at a famous restaurant in a metropolitan city. I grew up in Southern California where we celebrated Thanksgiving traditionally: with roast turkey and my maternal grandmother’s homemade gravy and mashed potatoes, and my paternal aunt’s famous pumpkin pie.

I have roasted turkey and hosted Thanksgiving only once before, several years ago. This year, my boyfriend and I were hosting 15 guests, who hailed from the U.S., El Salvador, Taiwan, Germany, Turkey, Australia and Ireland. I had a file with notes and recipes from my Mom and clippings from Gourmet magazine.

I struggled from the beginning. Maybe you have a fondness for your family traditions, as I do. I feel I am a good cook. I know I have strong opinions. As we started cooking, I found myself anxious and argumentative about how things should be prepared, most importantly the turkey. Let me I remind you, my boyfriend is a professional chef. However he had never roasted a turkey, so I assumed my family tradition and Gourmet magazine should supersede my boyfriend’s ideas regarding how to cook a turkey (as well as side dishes such as stuffing, which he also never made before). I should mention that I typically follow recipes like a hawk follows a gopher on a hillside, relentlessly. My boyfriend is more free-form. When he is asked to follow a recipe, he reacts like a kindergartner held back from recess, sullen and squirmy.

We had many push me, pull you conversations, particularly regarding the traditional dishes. I forced myself to let go on some things, but on others, I held my ground, such as bringing the turkey to room temperature before roasting. The preparation ultimately became about collaboration and compromise. The turkey turned out fabulous, and I learned a few new ways to prepare some of my other old favorites, and the guests — and my boyfriend and I — had a marvelous time.

The next day, I reflected on the irony that my work is promoting diversity and inclusion, and yet when I was confronted with differences from my own traditions, I was extremely challenged.

That’s where my epiphany came in. Take my Thanksgiving experience and consider how you might be challenged by cultural differences in your own organization. Here are three tips to guide you in embracing those differences and creating a more inclusive environment, even if that environment involves preparing for a holiday gathering:

1) Acceptance. Accept that you grew up with rules, preferences, traditions and routines that may differ from the experiences of other people.

2) Unlearning. Be willing to “unlearn” what you think you know to be true or right.

3) Dialogue. Transparently share the challenges you are having regarding the different or unfamiliar, particularly if there is something you hold dear, like family traditions.

I help CEOs who want to build or grow diversity and inclusion on their boards. The more I do this work, the more I am humbled by my own unconscious and conscious biases. For that, I am thankful.

Kim Clancy is founder and CEO of search firm Hampton O’Bannon Partners, LLC (HOP, LLC).

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimclancy

www.hopllc.com

kim@hopllc.com

Walking The Talk. Even Diversity Advocates Must Battle Unconscious Bias

I was not entirely comfortable producing a four-minute branding video for my business, but I know I have to put myself out there. I didn’t realize how much I would learn in the process — that I would reveal my own unconscious biases, it would give me greater understanding of what CEOs go through in filling their board seats, and enable me to “walk the talk” of my business in a much more effective manner.

As an introvert, I try to live by the saying, “Do something every day that scares you.” As a small business owner, I have to promote my work or I won’t have a sustainable, successful business. So I got out of my comfort zone, hired a videographer, and started interviewing people on camera for my branding video. My goal was to showcase my work helping CEOs build diverse boards of directors. I picked three great connections for my interviews:

*Tom Kalinske, a CEO who has a long history of successes in the toy and gaming industry.

*Olga V. Mack, a young attorney who launched a company in high school and sold it to her competitor years later. Olga is now general counsel at a reputable tech startup and serves on startup advisory boards.

*Penny Herscher, a CEO with activist investor experience who is on public and private boards.

I was extremely self-conscious in the first two video shoots, like a deer in headlights. I felt very uncomfortable in the spotlight. By the third interview shoot, I felt a little more relaxed.

After completing the three interviews, my videographer, who is also a journalist, wanted one more shot of me interviewing a board candidate via Skype. In thinking of who I could ask to do that, I reflected on who I already interviewed. I was mortified when I realized I was not “walking the talk.” I had diversity in gender and geographic origin, but no people of color (POC) nor LGBTQ community members in my interviews. I had gone to my immediate network, which tended to look like me.

In making that omission, I experienced the same issue CEOs and nominating governance committee chairs find when they look for board members: unconscious bias. I then made a conscious effort to ask my immediate network for referrals to executives who are people of color, in the LGBTQ community, or intersecting members of those groups. It did not surprise me when each person I asked had multiple referrals. Eventually, I called Darnell Kemp an investor who was perfect in giving me the balance the video needed, declaring, “In my day-to-day business world, I don’t see people like me, and I don’t see women.”

I am thankful for the experience I went through. I have renewed empathy for CEOs and nominating governance committee chairs who struggle to diversify their boards.

Are you experiencing unconscious bias when you or your executive search firm recruits board members? I can help. I am your conduit to a diverse network and, thanks to my video experience, it is a growing one!

Kim Clancy is founder and CEO of search firm Hampton O’Bannon Partners, LLC (HOP, LLC). She helps CEOs who want to build or grow diverse corporate boards.

LinkedIn : http://www.linkedin.com/in/kimclancy

Email : Kim@hopllc.com

Do It For The Right Reasons: Boards With More Women Grant Higher CEO Pay

Gretchen Morgenson’s “Fair Game” column in the Sunday New York Times Business section is a must read for CEOs, their teams and all investors. Gretchen is known for uncovering discrepancies, inequities, and potentially illegal maneuvers in the corporate world. The headline on this particular column, “Where More Women Are on Boards, Executive Pay Is Higher,” really grabbed my attention. My first thought was, this is a win-win. You get more women on boards and CEOs will be more highly compensated.

Alas, first thoughts are not always what they seem. As I dove deeper into Gretchen’s article, she pointed out several issues that countered my initial excitement.

The most disturbing notion was what may be behind the number: pressure women feel to avoid upsetting anyone in the boardroom. In the column, Nell Minow, a corporate finance expert, said executives are “looking for a consensus builder in a director. What that means is someone who doesn’t rock the boat.”

I was disappointed to learn that women in the boardroom are caving to the consensus; after all, the consensus may be wrong, or it may not be what is best for the company or its shareholders. In her column, Gretchen talks about how this may be the result of the hard road these women had to travel simply to get on a board. Even though they are often extremely successful and accustomed to speaking their minds, now that they’ve made it to the boardroom, they are not willing to go against the CEO for fear of losing their seat.

This attitude seems to fly in the face of the intent for diversity and inclusion. Yes, you need a consensus to move forward and get things done, but if you rely solely on a CEO and his or (in the rare case) her consensus-building directors, you will lose the statistically proven profitability benefit of a diverse board. You want a diverse board so you’ll hear perspectives you haven’t considered, not just so it can tell you what you want to hear.

Companies can remedy or alleviate this issue by implementing onboarding procedures that include discussions of the best practices for broaching opinions or ideas that differ from the CEO’s. Input on this can come from the CEO, board members and an outside vendor. Onboarding procedures should also include, in writing, the philosophy and values of the company. CEOs who embrace diversity in their corporate culture will have an easier time in allowing for differing opinions on their board. In the end, they’ll also have a more profitable company.

That’s because, after all, having diverse boards and workforces really do lead to better financial performance, and it’s got nothing to do with sycophantic behavior. See this Wall Street Journal article about how companies with more women and minorities in the upper ranks tend to turn in better financial performance, and this Yahoo Finance article about a study showing that companies with women on their boards outperformed those who only have men on their boards.

Smart CEOs don’t just want a rubber stamp. They want someone to give them honest answers. In the words of University of Notre Dame researcher Craig Crossland, management professor at the Mendoza College of Business: “Diverse groups tend to engage in discussions that are more thorough, more contentious and more likely to identify problems with the topic at hand.” CEOs need that frank and open dialogue, which will lead to better decisions.

Add women, people of color and LGBTQ community members to your board and encourage their divergent ideas, and you will make more money — not only for you, but for everyone in your company.

Kim Clancy is founder and CEO of search firm Hampton O’Bannon Partners, LLC (HOP, LLC). She helps technology companies attract and hire women and minorities to their boards.

LinkedIn : http://www.linkedin.com/in/kimclancy

Email : Kim@hopllc.com