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Liftstream Addressing the Chair and CEO Power Axis

Defining the Problem: 

•  The Chair of the board and the CEO are heavy influencers on strategy, policy and culture, and are also male in most life sciences companies, even where women are sitting on the company board. The Chair is male in almost 98% of companies and the CEO is male is over 90% of companies.
•  A lack of independent governance structures is contributing to fewer women on boards. Companies where the Chair and CEO role are split, are more likely to have a gender diverse board (66% have women on the board) than when the roles of Chair and CEO are combined (42% have women on the board).
•  Companies are trending towards a governance structure where the Chair and CEO are separated. Nearly three quarters (74.7%) of companies are choosing to split the roles of Chair and CEO, leading to more independent governance structures.

The concept of ‘setting the tone from the top’ is crucial in promoting gender diversity at the board, and throughout the rest of the company. With the Chair and CEO axis, so male-dominated, this tone and culture-setting are not being done by the key leaders. Separating the Chair and CEO is growing in popularity, particularly among public companies, and a clear relationship exists between this and the diversity of the board. Chairs and CEOs who have shown a commitment to increasing gender diversity agree it is an issue of leadership. If these figureheads are not leading and urging the rest of the company to follow, then the participation of women does not grow at all levels.

*All data is proprietary generated data published by Liftstream [Diversty Reports]

Liftstream Delivering a Solution:

•  We work with VP, SVP and C-suite women to provide explicit guidance to help those with the requisite capabilities to consider pursuing and fulfilling CEO positions.
•  Provide expert advice to companies considering to appoint a Chair or CEO, offering constructive guidance and challenge to the profiling and description development, thereby widening the selection opportunities.
•  We have established a partner relationship with BioDirector, a prevalent board director network, to grow the experience, effectiveness and capabilities of women and minorities already serving on boards, such that they would be increasingly likely to serve as Chair of the board, or as Chair of board committees.
•  As part of succession planning, develop discreet long-term target lists of CEO candidates for Chair / Nominations Committee, including a higher than market-average number of women prospects.
•  Through our own research, track and monitor the women with experience to Chair a board of directors. Work with our external partners to strengthen this population of prospects wherever possible.
•  Offer a very detailed diversity review to board Chairs, and the respective board of directors, to discuss their diversity position and, where requested, initiate a clear plan to increase board diversity toward clearly defined goals, metrics and objectives.
•  Work with boards to devise the most suitable governance structure for the company, giving consideration to the current directors and their respective skills, as well considering how the board must evolve to meet the strategic opportunities and challenges of the company.

Liftstream Target:

All CEO shortlists to have at least 30% women candidates and that CEO placements maintain an annualised average twice the market of sitting women CEOs (i.e. 9%). All Chair shortlists to be balanced 50/50 over an annualised period.

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