NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A new boardroom survey conducted by WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) and Bright Enterprises, Inc., an executive development firm, found that directors believe that their boards would make better decisions if the board was more open to debate. Over three quarters of the 345 female board director respondents to the survey agreed that their board "would reach better conclusions if they were more open to debate and argument," and 93% said that succeeding as a board member requires receptivity to criticism. The survey polled WCD members, who serve on the boards of public and large private and family-run businesses around the world.
"We hear over and over again from directors that they want to encourage courage and candor in the boardroom, so we set out to identify the role that criticism plays in boardrooms – and how well directors feel they handle it," says Susan Stautberg, co-founder, global co-chair, and CEO of WCD, the largest organization of women board directors globally. "Increasingly diverse boards are making criticism and dissent more of a challenge, and more of an opportunity."
"Criticism is a powerful influencer of board decision-making," says Dr. Deborah Bright, president of Bright Enterprises. "Its effect on the interplay between board members can change the whole dynamic of a board discussion, and thus have a major impact on organizational success." Dr. Bright is the author of The Truth Doesn't Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM).
Key findings of "Criticism and Its Place in the Boardroom"
Highlights of the findings from the survey, "Criticism and Its Place in the Boardroom," include:
- Directors see direct link between the board's effectiveness and how open the board is to argument and debate: 77% of respondents agree that their board would reach better conclusions if it were more open to debate and argument.
- While criticism is highly valued by directors, many are not getting the training for it: 79% of directors feel that board members would benefit greatly from training in the giving and receiving of criticism, but 50% said that they have never received formal training on how to give criticism; 42% report no training on how to be a receptive receiver of criticism.
- Criticism seen as a tool for change: 94% of board members believe that when criticism is used properly, it is a powerful influencer and motivator for bringing about change.
- Criticism intended to hurt or be destructive may be waning in the workplace: Nearly 25% of respondents believe criticism intended to hurt is more prevalent now that it was 10 years ago, but more directors – nearly 38% – do not agree that it is more prevalent now.
- Only just over half of directors believe that the CEO of their company takes criticism well: Looking to their relationship with the CEO, 53% of respondents said that the CEO of the company takes criticism well; 30% of directors disagreed and 17% were unsure.
- Similar feedback on fellow directors: When asked if their fellow directors take criticism well, only about 50% agree; 33% are unsure.
- More than one third have felt their critique of another director misinterpreted: 37% of directors can recall incidences where their criticism of another board member was misinterpreted as being accusatory or unjustly negative.
- Most directors would like to de-personalize criticism from other directors: 62% of directors agreed or strongly agreed that their role as a board director would be positively impacted if they were better at not personalizing what others said.
Implications of board diversity on criticism and dissent
"It's no longer the case that directors are sitting around a table full of people who look just like them," says Stautberg.
"As boards become more diverse, not only in terms of gender, ethnicity, and geography, but also in diversity of thought, directors will be increasingly challenged to handle criticism from fellow board members who are coming at an issue from a completely different perspective," says Stautberg.
"How a board and its individual directors handle dissent is an important measure of a board's effectiveness," says Dr. Bright. "Today's boards are under greater pressure to develop these kinds of skills, and to be able to work through issues without personalizing them."
For more information, please contact Suzanne Oaks Brownstein or Trang Mar of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or [email protected].
About WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD)
WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) is the only global membership organization and community of women corporate directors, comprised of more than 3,500 members serving on over 6,500 boards in 70 chapters around the world, with many more slated in the next two quarters. The aggregate market capitalization of public companies on whose boards WCD members serve is $8 trillion – if WCD were a country, its economy would be the world's third largest, behind only the U.S. and China. In addition, WCD members serve on numerous boards of large private companies globally.
WCD membership provides a unique platform for learning from the intellectual capital of accomplished women from around the world, and WCD's mission is to increase courage, candor, inclusion, and cohesion in the boardroom. KPMG is a Global Lead Sponsor of WCD. Spencer Stuart is a Premier Global Sponsor, Diligent is Global Executive Sponsor, and WCD Strategic Sponsors include Marriott International, Marsh & McLennan Companies, McGraw Hill Financial, and Pearl Meyer & Partners; WCD Alliance Sponsors include International Finance Corporation (IFC), JPMorgan Chase, and Northern Trust.
WCD has 70 global chapters, located in Arizona, Atlanta, Beijing, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Chile, Cleveland, Colombia, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greater Colorado, Greater New Mexico, Guatemala, Gulf Cooperation Council, Hanoi, Hawaii, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kansas City, Kenya, London, Los Angeles/Orange County, Malaysia, Melbourne, Mexico, Milan, Minnesota, Mongolia, Morocco, Mumbai, Netherlands, New York, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern California, North Florida/South Georgia, Panama, Peru, Philadelphia, Philippines, Quebec, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, San Diego, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore, South Africa, South Florida, Spain, Switzerland, Sydney, Tampa, Tennessee, Toronto, Turkey, Washington, D.C., and Western Canada. For more information, visit www.womencorporatedirectors.com or follow us on Twitter @WomenCorpDirs, #WCDboards.
About Deborah Bright, Ph.D.
Dr. Bright is President of Bright Enterprises, a consulting organization dedicated to improving individual and team performance. She is an ex-Olympic diver and an author of 6 books, most recently The Truth Doesn't Have to Hurt (AMACOM), which deals with using criticism to improve performance while strengthening relationships and promoting change.