More U.S. Boards Seek Independent Directors

By John S. McClenahen Fully 50% of the boards of America's largest corporations are now seeking independent directors, compared with only 20% a year ago, says Christian & Timbers, a New York-based executive search firm. "Boards are insisting that new members have no ties to the company. That includes ties to any other board member, especially the chairman and CEO," says Steve Mader, president and CEO of Christian & Timbers. Mader offers four suggestions for making the transition to a more independent board:

  • In an open process with the existing board, identify directors who have personal ties to the CEO and the corporation.
  • Stipulate a time frame for the transition -- it could be as much as two years.
  • Identify the background, experience and leadership skills required to be a director on the new board.
  • Announce to employees and shareholders that changes will be made.
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