The Conference Board Governance Center Blog

Jul
20
2016

Fact of the Week: A Two-Way Dialogue with Customers and Stakeholders Is Now Commonplace as Companies Embrace Social Media

By Matteo Tonello, Managing Director, Corporate Leadership at The Conference Board

Companies have embraced social media as an external communications tool, increasing their use of visual platforms such as Instagram and engaging employees in branding and promotional activities.

Every company participating in The Conference Board’s Corporate Communications Practices survey now uses social media in some way. A large majority of manufacturing (81.8 percent) and financial services (90 percent) companies indicated that the corporate communications officer is the official spokesperson on social networks. This is another front of the expansion of responsibilities of the communications department.  While the majority of organizations limit the use of the company’s social media accounts to official spokespersons, businesses seem to understand the employee engagement opportunities stemming from these technologies. The survey found that they rarely restrict employee access to their own personal social media accounts and that, in fact, they may encourage their use to support branding and promotional activities. Corporate policies regulating employees’ personal use of these platforms are quite widespread and may explicitly call for adherence to the company’s values and compliance with copyright laws.

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Jul
13
2016

Fact of the Week: Corporate Communications Teams Outperform other Departments on Gender Diversity

By Matteo Tonello, Managing Director, Corporate Leadership at The Conference Board

In the rank and file, and among the field’s leadership, women are more likely than men to hold a corporate communications position.

Across industries, the median number of female professionals in the communications department ranges from eight to nine, according to research conducted by The Conference Board. At larger companies with headcounts of 25,000 or higher, this can equate to a median percentage of women in the department above 70, which is far higher than the degree of female representation typically found across the workforce or in other main corporate functions. This gender diversity is achieved also at the leadership level, with 59.1 percent of manufacturing companies and 70 percent of financial services firms having a communications department led by a female executive—by way of comparison, CNNMoney reports only 14.2 percent of the top five leadership positions at companies in the S&P 500 are held by women.

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Jul
07
2016

Political Contributions Disclosure: Where Does Your Company Rank and Why Does it Matter?

By Rhonda L. Brauer, Senior Fellow, Governance Center at The Conference Board

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January 2010, which removed many limitations on corporate political spending, there has been increasing focus on management and board oversight of corporate political spending.  Tax-exempt entities have become a prominent means of funneling corporate and individual money indirectly into the political and public policy arena. Understandably, confused observers and participants really have no idea of how much money is being moved through the weeds of the resulting systems to influence the U.S. political processes and to impact the future of the U.S. government, economy and society.

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Jul
06
2016

Fact of the Week: Communications KPIs Increasingly Focus on Analysts’ Understanding of Business Strategy and Financial Results

By Matteo Tonello, Managing Director, Corporate Leadership at The Conference Board

All companies responding to The Conference Board Corporate Communications Practices survey have adopted as a key performance indicator (KPI) the monitoring of financial research and analysts’ coverage of the company. Ensuring that key stakeholders remain abreast of the company’s goals and objectives is one of two priorities for the function with regard to it becoming more involved in business strategy—the other is its role in informing the business decision-making process by engaging customers and stakeholders. Other widely used KPIs include press coverage and other indicators of media perception of the company (80 percent of financial firms) and data analytics on intranet use (53.3 percent).

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Jun
16
2016

Are Cyber Experts on Boards Inevitable?

By Bob Zukis, Senior Fellow, Governance Center at The Conference Board

Fifteen years ago the legislation known as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) forced American corporate boards to diversify their skills by adding financial expertise to their director ranks.  Are we now at a similar point for IT and cybersecurity governance skills?

The Conference Board in their report titled “Emerging Practices In Cyber Risk Governance”[1] defines cyber risk governance as “…a framework adopted within an organization to deal with the new and evolving risks relating to cyber space both within the organization and as the organization interfaces with the outside world.” Moreover, the report expressly states that “Cyber risk governance begins with the board…”

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