How non-executive directors are changing the face of the corporate boardroom

Article by Audeliss

The global pandemic has forced company boardrooms to re-evaluate how they are structured, the skills they hold and how they now need to be built in order to respond to any potential future crises. Companies are evolving and priorities shifting to maintain board effectiveness in the new business landscape.

One change companies are looking to in order to get ahead is in appointing Non-Executive Directors to the board. In fact, 72 per cent of FTSE 150 boards appointed a new non-executive director during the year; and, for the first time, the majority of these new directors were women.

If you’re considering appointing a NED, it’s likely you’re weighing up the advantages and potential challenges that come with the role. The truth is, they’re changing the face of the corporate boardroom, and here’s how.

Independent oversight

Especially important during times of change, introducing a NED to the board can bring a new perspective, challenging the thoughts of the CEO and other board members. As such, there is the potential for this individual to bring diverse thinking to a business, which enhances the inclusivity across the Board. After all, diversity of thought in the boardroom can help your organisation grow, identify risks, spot opportunities and outperform others.

These individuals provide a check and balance to other executives, holding them to account and providing the strategic, independent oversight needed to guide and influence key decision-making.

Appointing a board-level Non-Executive Director provides a unique opportunity for a business to be seen through a fresh pair of eyes. While a functioning corporate boardroom will likely be all too familiar with operations from the perspective of senior management figures, the role of a NED can offer a well-rounded, objective view of the business

Specialist knowledge

The expertise and specialist understanding of core areas within your business will enhance the value of the conversation in monthly board meetings and the actions that stem from this. In the changing circumstances being experienced across the country, boards can identify areas in which they may be inexperienced and fill these gaps with specifical technical knowledge from a NED appointment.

They can also provide wider business experience, key contacts within relevant sectors and different skill sets to the technical minds of certain board roles. In turn, this can provide a more holistic overview of the structure and operations in a business.

Personal experiences

The process of becoming a NED in today’s society is tightening, as the spotlight shines on examining the value an individual will bring to the business. Executives will demand a focus on good governance, needing NEDs to draw on their experiences and background to provide a balanced and well-informed vision to enhance the performance of the board. Ultimately, they need to be a member of the team that the board can’t be without.

A good non-executive will be prepared to act as a champion for the business they are advising, connecting them with other stakeholders in their network, helping to promote the business where they can. Executive teams need to have a balance of skills, experience and knowledge and to achieve this it’s essential to bring in people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

We’re not just talking diversity in the traditional sense. But also, boards are looking for diversity of thought – people who can look at the same set of challenges yet offer a different perspective that results in more effective decision-making and better outcomes.

Audeliss are delighted to be sponsoring the Dame Helen Alexander, ‘NED to Watch’ at the 2021 NED Awards and our Founder and CEO, Suki Sandhu OBE is a judge! Our team are here to support you in making your next non-executive director search. Get in touch to find out more.

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