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Study aims to evaluate board practices. Some of the leading practices have been highlighted in the report. Photo: iStock
Study aims to evaluate board practices. Some of the leading practices have been highlighted in the report. Photo: iStock

Boards that lead: How competent are corporate India’s boards

Korn Ferry study conducted jointly with NSE is the first-of-its-kind survey on Indian board practices

Mumbai: What percentage of corporate India has a defined succession plan to address future leadership challenges? Are Indian companies doing enough to structure boards that can tackle the intricacies of corporate governance in a complex regulatory environment? Do Indian boards think about diversity? A Korn Ferry survey conducted in partnership with National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE) has some of the answers.

Indian companies and regulatory bodies have been focusing attention on effective corporate governance, widely considered critical for the integrity of corporations and greater stakeholder value. The argument can be extended to posit that best board practices are central to the health of any economy and its stability. The Uday Kotak-led committee on corporate governance contends that “corporate governance is an integral part of the broader governance of the country". While there has been steady progress in aligning India’s corporate governance standards closer to global best practices over the past two decades, many Indian publicly traded firms have begun to formally evaluate their boards to make them more effective.

The study by Korn Ferry, a global organisational consulting firm, is the first-of-its-kind survey on Indian board practices. Titled Boards That Lead, it was compiled after sending questionnaires to companies listed on NSE, analysing their responses and following it up with interviews with select companies to ascertain and evaluate board practices across industries. Some of the leading practices have been highlighted in the report.

The study is based on responses to both the above-mentioned methodologies, where the sample population represents large, mid and small cap companies across multiple sectors, grouped under five broad heads, such as industrial (manufacturing, housing, real estate, infrastructure, chemicals, aviation, energy, electricity), financial (banking, NBFCs, insurance), consumer (retail, wholesale, food, beverage, consumer services), technology (IT, technology consulting, business consulting) and life sciences (pharmaceuticals, healthcare, bio-technology).

The results paint a vivid picture of board performance across the country, particularly opportunities for selection of independent directors, board effectiveness and succession planning. The findings of the study will be released on the evening of 17 December before a select audience. The release will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Mint. The panellists are Harsh Mariwala (chairman of Marico Ltd), Ishaat Hussain (former director Tata Sons and former chairman of Voltas Ltd), Naina Lal Kidwai (banker and former CEO and India head of HSBC), Ravi Venkatesan (former chairman of Bank of Baroda, Microsoft India and co-chairman of Infosys Ltd) and Robert Hallagan (Global Board Services leader for Korn Ferry). The key findings will be also shared exclusively with Mint readers in the newspaper’s 18 December edition.

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