Boardroom Questions About Information Security

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More than ever before, boards are faced with the daunting task to ensure their company is protected in the event of an online attack. Just a decade or so ago, questions of digital risk rarely made it to the boardroom; instead, companies charged c-suite leaders with the duty cybersecurity. As larger data breaches have wreaked havoc on major organizations, however, board members have begun to recognize their important role in risk management for information security. In order to maintain a proactive approach, we recommend that directors ask a lot of questions—these included:
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Exploring Types of Corporate Governance Training

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Becoming a board member is a great achievement in and of itself, but becoming a successful board member poses a unique challenge—one that can be made easier through the utilization of top-notch training. The types of corporate governance training range in both price and in duration. In this blog, we’ll highlight some of those options.

Online Courses

Luckily, the digital age we’re living in presents many convenient ways for board members to grow their knowledge and expertise. You can watch a quick 5-minute video about cyber security concerns, or you can jump in a weeks-long online education track. In fact, numerous corporate governance organizations offer extensive educational tools for directors. For instance, the National Association for Corporate Directors offers a course for board members called “Education Framework,” and clearly outlines its purpose: “The establishment of a standard in director education creates much-needed clarity about the knowledge and competencies directors should develop to become high-performing board leaders.” A large number of sites offer similar online programs that are low-cost but highly respected.
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Strengthening Board Collaboration

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collaboration (noun): the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

 

Boardrooms are built on the foundation of collaboration; it is the ultimate purpose of their existence—bringing two or more leaders together to produce the best decisions possible. Unfortunately, boards don’t always focus enough time on strengthening their collaborative practices, but fear not! We’re here with some helpful tips on how to cultivate a collaborative energy in your boardroom.
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Board Member Onboarding Done Right

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When boards welcome a new director, the focus should be on setting that individual up for success. Whether the person is a first-time board member or a veteran of corporate governance, offering them a purposeful orientation process can go a long way toward building a strong leadership team. While slight variations will exist, the basic principles of productive onboarding are universal whether your company is public, private, or not-for-profit. Consider these suggestions and how they can take your board to a higher level of effectiveness.
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Understanding Executive Search Firms

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Sometimes, finding the right board member can be a difficult process—especially for larger companies who are looking for a leader with a lot of experience. Many of the most successful directors already serve on multiple boards, so it’s no easy feat to convince them to consider a new opportunity. In other instances, organizations simply don’t have the internal resources or network necessary to find the best candidates—not to mention evaluate them. These are the moments when a board might consider utilizing the services of an executive search firm.
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What Is Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance?

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Insurance is pivotal to the existence of any private organization. Companies often have to purchase a variety of coverage options to ensure their business is completely safeguarded: property insurance, liability protection, loss control assurance, and more. D&O insurance is one more type of specialty coverage that companies with boards of directors should consider purchasing.

According to Investopedia, “Directors and officers (D&0) liability insurance is insurance coverage intended to protect individuals from personal losses if they are sued as a result of serving as a director or an officer of a business or other type of organization. It can also cover the legal fees and other costs the organization may incur as a result of such a suit.”
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Company Culture Starts With Corporate Governance

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You’ve seen the headlines—“company culture” is one of the most-covered topics in business leadership over the past couple of years. You can read about why you shouldn’t just let your company culture happen. You can explore “Why Corporate Culture Is Becoming More Important.” And, of course, you can dive into how certain types of company culture will boost your organization’s performance.

Before we launch into how company culture begins with the board, let’s define the term we’re using. According to Wikipedia, company culture (also referred to as organizational culture) “encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization…and includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs, and habits.” Yes, that’s a long definition! To simplify, though, company culture is created through a blend of the practices, policies, and people that make up an organization.
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When Your Board Gets Bored

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At times, board service can be exciting, engaging, and groundbreaking. Board members might have the opportunity to lead the revitalization of a struggling company or discover new avenues for growth. Board service will occasionally feel tedious or rote, though. The truth is that being on a board involves some repetitive practices, but that doesn’t mean that directors’ eyes have to glaze over during meetings.

So how can you keep things fresh and focused on a strategic future? Here are some of our suggestions:

Don’t let the agenda become an afterthought.

We’ve shared our thoughts on creating better board agendas here, but this topic is important when it comes to keeping board meetings fresh, too. The agenda-building process should be interactive, and board members need to think critically about how to structure them from month to month. Rather than adopting a system that just rolls over after every meeting, challenge your board to create agendas that will spark new conversations.
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Noteworthy Books About Corporate Governance

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Sure, the Internet has made it easy to read bite-sized articles on all the latest trends in board membership—in fact, you’re reading one of those right now. But are you looking to take a deeper dive into the world of corporate governance? Well, we have some suggestions for you!

  1. Dear Chairman

This fascinating read by hedge fund manager and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, Jeff Gramm, digs deep into the ever-evolving relationship between corporate directors and shareholder activists. “Gramm analyzes different eras and pivotal boardroom battles from the last century to understand the factors that have caused shareholders and management to collide. Throughout, he uses the letters to show how investors interact with directors and managers, how they think about their target companies, and how they plan to profit.”
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Dealing With a Boardroom Bully

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While many of you may have hoped that bullying behaviors ended with high school, the sad truth is that sometimes even the boardroom has a bully problem. The tactics won’t be the same as when you were growing up, but they can still cause a great deal of discomfort. Perhaps your boardroom bully constantly cuts people off when they’re speaking or refuses to put topics on the agenda. Maybe they work behind the scenes to manipulate or intimidate fellow board members. Not only can these behaviors create awkward situations, they can also have a deeply negative effect on your board’s ability to function.

So how do you handle a tricky situation like this? Here are some of our suggestions:
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