Leading Public Company Directors Shape Governance in the Age of WikiLeaks

New Approaches Required for IT and All Communications

Dec 15, 2010, 10:01 ET from National Association of Corporate Directors

TAMPA, Fla., Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- In the post-WikiLeaks age in which boards operate today, everything is discoverable and, it seems, nothing is secret. The speed at which previously confidential information now travels requires directors to take a fresh look at digital communications in relation to corporate governance – and then move swiftly to take appropriate action.

The National Association of Corporate Directors' (NACD) last week hosted 50 public company board members at Director Professionalism® – The Master Class to share a broad range of expertise with their director peers. The selective, in-depth class is the foundation course for NACD's Board Leadership Fellowship program, and allows directors to learn from leading practices and develop innovative approaches to new boardroom challenges. In a reflection of the new challenges that directors face, social media, security, and regulatory compliance requirements were among the key areas of focus at the conference, along with building value for key stakeholders.

In addressing today's environment, where information security is under attack, Virginia Gambale, director, JetBlue, and a former chief information officer (CIO) on Wall Street, urged fellow directors to become more engaged with their company's CIO and to ask penetrating questions about IT strategy and security. Importantly, Ms. Gambale said, "If the mind can create it, the mind can break it." Directors must be aware of aggressive efforts by hackers and others to penetrate corporate information security defenses for nefarious reasons.

Speakers at the Master Class also strongly recommended the use of social media to enable directors to keep abreast of what customers are saying about the products and services provided by their respective companies. Effective use of social media is essential for directors to remain tuned-in and relevant – and may now be as important a tool as other traditional methods of gauging customer opinion. NACD advises directors to tune in to social media to augment other methods of information gathering, such as visits with customer service teams, operating personnel, and customers.

Other directors and NACD members who contributed to the Master Class included Charles Garcia, James Olson and Evelyn Follit, directors, Winn-Dixie; Stuart Levine, director, Broadridge; Bill Joyce, director, CVS; Rear Admiral (Ret.) Marty Evans, director and compensation chair, Office Depot; Anne Sheehan, director, corporate governance, CalSTRS; Charles Elson, director, HealthSouth; and Major General (Ret.) "Peet" Proctor, director, Nash Finch.

Participant reaction to the conference was enthusiastic. Sherrill Hudson, chairman of the board, TECO Energy, Inc., said, "Of all the programs I have attended over the years, NACD's Master Class provides the best, most unique approach to help directors anticipate risk, stay ahead of competitive threats, and deliver superior shareholder value."

About NACD

The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) is the only membership organization delivering the information and insights that corporate board members need to confidently navigate complex business challenges and enhance shareowner value. With more than 10,000 members, NACD advances exemplary board leadership. NACD is focused on creating more effective and efficient boards through director-led education and peer forums to share ideas and leading practices based on more than 30 years of primary research. NACD is shaping the future of board leadership. To learn more about NACD, visit www.NACDonline.org.

SOURCE National Association of Corporate Directors