Advancing Boards – Global Board Survey 2017 results: How Boards advance – and companies with them

InterSearch – Worldwide Organization of Executive Search Firms and Board Network – The Danish Professional Directors Association have together performed this Global Board Survey 2017 in January and February 2017 among 1.017 corporate chairmen/women and board members from 52 countries on all populated continents. Respondents represent every imaginable industry, all sizes of companies up to turnovers of more than USD 20 Billion per year, and all kinds of ownership structures.

A strong majority of 68% has a very definite opti­mistic look on the future, anticipating the compa­ny’s financial outlook to improve for the coming 2 years compared to the past 2 years. 56% expect to perform better than the compe­tition in the coming 2 years, and as many as 35% ex­pect to develop equally with the competitors.

Two very remarkable Megatrends for the next three years take almost all the spotlight: Disruptive / exponential technolo­gies in general, and Geopolitical instability and polit­ical dogma shifts. The only certain thing these days is uncertainty, and that puts a demand of much more broad-spectral holistic scenario planning and business modelling at board level.

For the great majority of respondents the most significant Board / Governance trends in the coming year are More focus on the future of the business / less on compliance/risk/control tasks, and Transformation focus and digital savviness.

Other trends drawing a lot of attention are More regulation and governmental control; Increased sustainability focus; and More time spent on stakeholder management.

Interesting also the Emerging trends such as More diversity focus, More board evaluations, and The rise of board mentoring as a valuable tool for individual board members.

Despite the fact that only 22% of our respondents being women and 78% being men, half of all respondents ex­press with certainty that greater gender diversity is to some or a large extent value-adding to any board, and another 31% said that it could potentially be val­ue-adding depending on the situation.

Based on this year’s Global Board Survey 2017 as well as our vast experience from working with some of the world’s most influential board members from some of the world’s largest companies, we have been able to identify ten characteristics that Advancing Boards have in common:

They are courageous, lead, continuously prepare for the future, engage fully, rely on evidence (facts and data when making strategic decisions), they are all for diversity, act timely, exhibit integrity, undergo regular and formal board evalu­ations, and last but not least remember why they were originally appoint­ed to the board: add value to the board, the company and the shareholders.

“According to the survey results 52% of all boards now perform regular and formal board evaluations – that is up from 47% in our Global Board Survey 2015. Boards in general think they do a good, yet not out­standing job. A remarkable 20% think that their own board’s performance requires either improvement or significant improvement saying it’s a worry of theirs. After strategy, HR including recruitment and succession planning is the second highest ranking internal challenge with 41% of all respondents”

said Jakob Stengel, Managing Partner at Case Rose-InterSearch Denmark and Global Head of Board Practice, Founder & Chairman of Board Network.

“74% of respondents confirmed that at least one of the sources used to identify and attract new board members is the existing board members’ own network, but definitely expect the Executive Search firms involved in board searches will definitely increase in the next 3 years. At InterSearch we are ready to take up the challenge.”

said Peter Waite, Chairman of InterSearch Worldwide.