By John S. McClenahen The combination of recruitment, retention, professional development, measurement and workforce planning known as talent management is becoming a major part of corporate strategy, indicates a Conference Board report. "Boards of directors and other senior leadership teams are taking a direct interest in integrating talent management into overall corporate strategy," says the New York-based business research group. "Talent management's importance is evident in its ability to hold management interest even in the recently weak economy," observes Lynne Morton, principal in Performance Improvement Solutions and author of the report. "It seems that talent management is coming into its own now." According to the report, fewer than a third of companies surveyed abandoned their talent management initiatives as a result of the weak economy and fewer than half cut back on their programs. Among the companies studied were Hewlett-Packard Co., Medtronic Inc., PepsiCo., and Johnson & Johnson.