As the role of boards has evolved over the past couple of decades, their composition has changed accordingly. In times past, when serving on a board was akin to being a member of an exclusive club, boards had few defined responsibilities, and fewer demands and expectations were placed upon them.
Fast forward to a few high-profile corporate crises in the mid-‘90s and the heated questions: Where was the Board? Why did they not see this coming and take action to protect the shareholders? In addition to the outside pressure exerted on boards, which resulted in greater regulations and overall scrutiny, an epiphany came from within: assembling the right assortment of skills and experience in directors around the boardroom table — one geared to complementing a company’s strategy — could prove a valuable resource.
Particularly in companies where international business plays a significant and growing role, international directors are an important part of this director recruitment equation. This wider view of the input required for board conversations and deliberations, including input from a range of customers and markets — diversity writ large — is not just good politics, it is good business. In fact, our survey of S&P 500 companies makes a clear business case for the importance of international directors on boards.