“There’s just no excuse”

  • We need to make smart, talent-based, perspective-building decisions about our companies and our boards. We have a very rich talent pool and we have a very real opportunity to build diversity of perspective into the organizational structures of our companies and their boards.

Anne M Mulcahy, The Focus, Egon Zehnder, 2013

I believe the potential of #diverseboards as a change agent remains extraordinary. Ms Mulcahy also adds another crucial point: CEOs need to make it clear that having a diverse board is a priority for them.

In the following short video, an excerpt from a longer, very interesting interview with Egon Zehnder colleagues for which we are grateful, Anne M. Mulcahy, former Chairwoman and CEO of copier manufacturer Xerox, makes a number of interesting points about the opportunity of selecting proper and diverse talent for boards.

I am very grateful to the outstanding talent of so many women who are already changing for the better many of the things we do.

Tommaso Arenare

www.twitter.com/tommaso_arenare

A time for women


A great day of work in Venice, on 23 November 2012, to discuss how we can all help women flourish and, with them, make Italy and the world a better place. A great “Thank you” to all outstanding participants, who ensured this was a success!

This is the video, in Italian, of of the opening panel, which I had the privilege to lead:

Full video coverage can be found here.

We believe “Tempo di donne” can be one of the many initiatives in support of the outstanding women who are leading Italy and Europe towards better Corporate Governance.

Tommaso Arenare

Ambassadors of merit

Together with Claudia Parzani, a Partner at Linklaters, Anna Zanardi, an executive coach and Marco Massarotto, a digital entrepreneur and social media expert, I have the privilege of being part of the “faculty” of “In the Boardroom“, a programme that Valore D, an Italian association of companies to support female talent and leadership, is offering free of charge (the faculty itself operates at no charge) to a selected number of exceptional Non Executive Director candidates.

A group 35 of super-talented executives was selected to spend one full day per month, for a year, in a classroom, sharing and discussing best practices in corporate governance, with a view to becoming instruments to change corporate governance for the better, from inside the Boardroom.

After a first full day in the classroom with these exceptional executives and professionals, I will celebrate a very simple thing: these people’s entry in the Boardroom will be the result of a process entirely based on merit and competencies, overcoming the drawbacks of traditional biases in the selection candidates.

Ambassadors of merit.

This is, per se, an exceptional occasion to celebrate, as well as an example to become best practice beyond the borders of Europe.

Tommaso Arenare

A year ago and another good example

It was a year ago, 24 August of 2011.

Steve Jobs wrote this now famous letter to the Board of Apple:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know.

Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

A year has gone. Three sentences strike me when reading this today:

  • “If there ever came a day (…), I would be the first to let you know”
  • “I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple”
  • “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it”

Here’s an excellent “Progress Report”, one year later, by Fortune’s @adamlashinsky.

So many times we realise how difficult it is to be an example in stepping down after identifying and growing a successor.

Leadership succession is yet another area where Steve Jobs has reshaped existing paradigms, for the better.

This deserves to be remembered.

Tommaso Arenare

Italy, #diverseboards and a reason for hope

It seemed just too difficult, too corageous and brave. A work of so many years. So many “no’s”, so many “it’s impossible”…

Finally, Italy did it and set a good example.

Italy’s law on gender diversity for Board of Directors of listed companies (Law n. 120/2011, dated 12 July 2011, the so-called “Golfo Mosca Law”), comes into force tomorrow, 12 August 2012.

Starting tomorrow, in essence, Italian listed or State controlled companies will need to appoint a fifth (to become a third at the following mandate) of board members as part of the “under represented gender”.

Even before tomorrow, this law has been implemented earlier by a number of Italian corporates, during the Annual General Meeting season of 2012: exceptional women were selected, overall corporate governance improved. Italian companies have rightly taken it as a great opportunity to make better use of their Boards, on the basis of more merit and competency-based selection.

I have separately described this as a great sign of good things coming and more to come.

Here, I want to take a moment to celebrate the coming into force of this law as a reason for hope.

With this, I celebrate the work of Lella Golfo and Alessia Mosca, two outstanding ladies whose own differences were turned into a joint strength. With them, I celebrate all the very many exceptional female leaders, whose talent is already making a difference for the better in Italy and in Europe.

Tommaso Arenare

www.twitter.com/tommaso_arenare