Barbarians at the Boardroom Gates: Corporate Forum Weighs in on the Overall Rights and Responsibilities of Boards

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Corporate Forum, a leading Boston investors group, weighs in on the rights and responsibilities of boards, arguing that board members have the right to make higher level decisions, but also the responsibility of providing thoughtful oversight.

Boston Investment Group
The Corporate Forum brings publicly-traded companies face-to-face with the retail investment community.

Corporate Forum, a leading resource for investors to meet face-to-face with publicly traded companies, is weighing in on the rights and responsibilities of boardrooms in order to clarify what the role of the board is in light of recent industry trends.

According to Beth Kurth, President of Corporate Forum, members of the board "the right to participate in higher level decision making," which also means they bear the vital "responsibility to provide thoughtful oversight."

"Part of thoughtful oversight is an understanding that the role of the board is not to deliver supernormal returns to shareholders, but rather to guide the company toward excellence on behalf of all stakeholders including customers, employees and partners," says Kurth.

Yet, some boards are failing to live up to this responsibility.

"By de-staggering terms and allowing for full slates to be voted in or out at a time," explains Kurth, "some boards have willingly forfeited their responsibility to all but shareholders."

The big trouble with boardrooms shirking this important responsibility to provide crucial, thoughtful oversight, as Kurth says, is that it in turn enables power grabs by activist investors.

But if it's such a bad thing, why then were these responsibilities forfeited? What was the point of making strategic moves like de-staggering terms and allowing full slates to be voted in or out?

"Because activist shareholders asked them to," says Kurth simply.

To allow activist shareholders to make such grabs at power is not only a short-term mistake, but can lead to long-term failure. When such short-sighted shareholders seize power, the wrong parties gain clout and begin making decisions that are not in the sustainable interest of all parties involved. As Kurth notes, "Enabling power grabs is not good governance."

In order to avoid such mistakes and failures from happening, the Corporate Forum recommends that boards extend their focus to encompass the full range of company stakeholders, "from retail shareholders interested in the long-term, to employees who contribute to the operations of the company, to customers who buy the company's output and others."

The Corporate Forum brings publicly-traded companies face-to-face with the retail investment community. Founded in 1971 as the Boston Stockbrokers Club, the Corporate Forum has since expanded into other cities nationwide. Companies from all sectors and market capitalizations use our services to speak directly to this large and broad cross-section of investors. To learn more about how your company can connect with retail investors, visit http://www.corporateforum.com.

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