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Cybersecurity and Disruptive Innovations Top List of Concerns for Corporate Boards in 2018

Annual survey by Corporate Board Member and Spencer Stuart finds technology, not activists or ESG, is top of mind for public company directors; little enthusiasm for more cyber regulation

STAMFORD, Conn., April 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Corporate Board Member, a division of Chief Executive Group and a market leader in board education, along with Spencer Stuart, a global, senior executive search firm, have released the results of the 15th annual What Directors Think survey, which reflects the opinions of more than 200 directors at publicly traded U.S. companies. Despite the activist headlines and the economic boom times, the survey finds boards are overwhelmingly concerned with being ill-equipped to keep up with the acceleration of technology and disruption.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of directors surveyed said their board has at least one member with the technical skills to engage in a meaningful discussion with senior information security executives on matters of a highly technical nature. Yet, a similar proportion (67 percent) reported having had to bring in subject matter experts to help master contentious cyber issues, and 20 percent of those who had not yet done so at the time of the survey were considering doing it in the near future.

Julie Hembrock Daum, who leads the North American Board Practice at Spencer Stuart, says when it comes to technology, boards are indeed having to evolve. "With an eye to the disruptive forces facing their businesses, boards are adding directors with fresh perspectives and knowledge in emerging areas of importance, including technology, digital and marketing expertise," she continues, adding that in its research, Spencer Stuart has found that nearly 20 percent of new S&P 500 directors have backgrounds in the technology or telecommunications industries.

It is clear from the findings that cybersecurity risk remains a top concern for directors, and that it may in fact be intensifying. In the 2017 What Directors Think survey, 78 percent of directors said they felt additional regulation would have little effect in curbing cyber attacks and would overburden companies and their boards. This year, 20 percent say that high-profile breaches, especially those that occurred at Equifax, the SEC and Uber, have convinced them to change their stance in favor of more cyber regulation, enough to have tipped the scale in support of increased regulation in that area.

"The headlines are everywhere," says Melanie C. Nolen, research editor, Corporate Board Member, who directs the annual survey. "Directors are quickly realizing that they can no longer leave the issue of cybersecurity to the IT department. They need to step in, ask the right questions and demand precise answers. It's a matter of due care and reasonable prudence for which they can be liable."

And as regulators work to double down on their efforts to eradicate inadequate cybersecurity practices, directors of publicly traded companies have no choice but to shift their focus to finding a resolution to this growing threat. According to Daum, S&P 500 boards have already begun reshaping their committee structures. "New committees are emerging, and several have become more prevalent in the past 10 years, including risk; science & technology; and environment, health and safety committees. In 2007, for example, 5 percent of boards had a science and technology committee, compared with 10 percent today."

The 15th annual What Directors Think survey results are detailed in the current issue of Corporate Board Member magazine, available here: https://cloud.3dissue.com/124771/124993/146460/CBM2Q2018/index.html

About Corporate Board Member
Corporate Board Member, a division of Chief Executive Group, has been the market leader in board education for 20 years. The quarterly publication provides public company board members, CEOs, general counsel and corporate secretaries decision-making tools to address the wide range of corporate governance, risk oversight and shareholder engagement issues facing their boards. Corporate Board Member further extends its thought leadership through online resources, webinars, timely research, conferences and peer-driven roundtables. The company maintains the most comprehensive database of directors and officers of publicly traded companies listed with NYSE, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq. Learn more at BoardMember.com

About Chief Executive Group
Chief Executive Group, the leading community for business leaders worldwide, publishes Chief Executive magazine (since 1977), ChiefExecutive.net, Corporate Board Member magazine and BoardMember.com, as well as conferences and roundtables that enable CEOs to discuss key subjects and share their experiences with their peers. The Group also runs the Chief Executive Network, the leading CEO membership organization arranged by industry, and facilitates the annual "CEO of the Year," a prestigious honor bestowed upon an outstanding corporate leader, nominated and selected by a group of peers. Visit www.ChiefExecutive.net and www.BoardMember.com for more information.

About Spencer Stuart 
At Spencer Stuart, we know how much leadership matters. We are trusted by organizations around the world to help them make the senior-level leadership decisions that have a lasting impact on their enterprises. Through our executive search, board and leadership advisory services, we help build and enhance high-performing teams for select clients ranging from major multinationals to emerging companies to nonprofit institutions.

Privately held since 1956, we focus on delivering knowledge, insight and results though the collaborative efforts of a team of experts -- now spanning 56 offices, 30 countries and more than 50 practice specialties. Boards and leaders consistently turn to Spencer Stuart to help address their evolving leadership needs in areas such as senior-level executive search, board recruitment, board effectiveness, succession planning, in-depth senior management assessment and many other facets of organizational effectiveness. For more information on Spencer Stuart, please visit www.spencerstuart.com.

Corporate Board Member
Media Contact:
Melanie C. Nolen
+1 615.592.1169
[email protected]

Spencer Stuart
James L. Horton, Marston Strategic Communications
+1 917.472.0612
+1 917.843.3670
[email protected] 
www.online-pr.com
@jamlhorton – Twitter
www.marstonsc.com

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SOURCE Chief Executive Group

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