The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Role model for a director

New Delhi, July 16: How many directorships on company boards ought a man to have if he wants to honestly fulfil his fiduciary responsibilities'

Three, reckons Peter Grauer, chairman, president and treasurer of Bloomberg LLC, who limits himself to just one apart from his executive position at the global financial media company.

The issue came into sharp focus at a lively discussion on corporate governance here today where it became apparent that both in India as well as the US, it is getting harder to find independent directors to join company boards even as regulators and industry ramp up their corporate governance standards in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals.

Grauer reckons that one ought not to take on a directorship — no matter how compelling the offer — unless he is pretty sure that he can earmark 10-12 days a year to pour over every aspect of the company’s operations. “Believe me, it’s tough to do all that,” he said.

“Independent directors should serve as lightning rods of controversy on company boards,” said Grauer. “They are the sounding boards and must assert their independence of thought and action at every stage.”

Grauer admitted that this was hard to do, especially when cronyism in the corporate world and the large compensation packages became huge inducements to independent directors to look the other way when the financial shenanigans were taking place.

The Bloomberg chief, who assumed the position when Michael Bloomberg stepped down from his eponymous company to become the mayor of New York, said the crisis brought on by the wave of financial scandals in the US had brought a sense of sobriety.

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