LONDON, November 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Fifty three percent of non-executive directors believe their boards lack the skills to tackle digital disruption, rating it as by far the most needed skill to improve board performance. This is according to the Harvey Nash Board Report, representing the views of almost 300 non-executive directors (NEDs) and chairs.
Whilst initiatives such Lord Davies' Women on Boards report are driving boardrooms to become increasingly gender diverse, they remain stubbornly lacking in 'functional' diversity. Almost half (45 percent) of board members come from a finance or corporate strategy background, but only four per cent have hands-on experience in digital or technology.
Ashok Gupta, Chair AA Insurance Services, commenting in the Harvey Nash report, said: "The pendulum has swung too far. The political and economic climate has led to increasing focus on corporate reporting, compliance, risk and controls. So non-executive experts in these areas have been recruited. With increasing digitisation we need to spend more time considering the customer needs and innovation, as well as creating the right culture."
As boards become increasingly concerned by the risk of cyber-crime, as well as recognising the highly disruptive effect of companies like Uber or Amazon, digital is moving from being a tactical issue primarily of concern to the executive team, to a strategic issue that has consequences for non-executives. Two-thirds (67 percent) of non-executives indicated they were talking about Digital noticeably more compared to three years ago, and one-fifth (21 percent) indicated 'significantly more'. Digital is the second fastest growing worry for the board, only behind Corporate Governance and Risk.
Christine de Largy, chair Harvey Nash Board Practice, commented: "The challenge for boards is how to access the right digital skills. But at the same time all board members need to find a way to assimilate digital skills so they can genuinely understand the detail and do not abdicate the collective responsibility of the board. In today's world, boards need as firm a grasp on digital as they do on finance."
SOURCE Harvey Nash Plc