Capability Improvement for Supervisory Boards – a Priority?

Capability Improvement for Supervisory Boards – a Priority? 1024 536 Anja Fiedler

A recent study, conducted by Denison Consulting amongst Swiss Supervisory Board members about „The role of organisational culture on Supervisory Boards“ showed, that Swiss Board members consider capability development as an area for improvement.
The question „The “bench strength” (capability of the Board) is constantly improving“ was generally scored lower than other questions, especially by Board Members from the Financial Services and the Health Care Industry as well as from the sector „Others“ (which comprised eg real estate, machine industry, milk processing industry, construction industry and others). Board Members from the Consumer Goods, the Energy and Information / IT industry rated this question more positively.
As to the company size in terms of number of employees, Board Members serving on Boards of companies of 5.001-10.000 employees do not see a need for improvement in this area, whereas for all other company sizes (0-50, 51-200, 201-1.000, 1.001-5.000 employees) this question was amongst the lowest scoring questions.
Board member of listed companies rated slightly more positive than those of non-listed companies, and members of the board were slightly more positive than Chairmen / Presidents of the Board.

Compared to the global Denison benchmark, the Swiss Board members considered themselves at the same level as 70% of other companies respectively believe, that 30% of other companies are better in this area.

With a mean score 3.66 this question was among the lowest rated items out of 34 questions in total, driven by 11% negative, 28% neutral and 61% positive responses on a 5 point scale.
Of course, it is important to note that given that this was a pilot study the results are at this stage not yet statistically validated on a big scale. In addition, based on interviews that have been conducted it may well be that the need for „continuous“ improvement is not there for Supervisory Boards. Those interviewed were generally satisfied with investment in capabilities upon joining the Board, ie the onboarding process as well as regarding selected relevant themes such as e.g. cyber security.
While on the one hand the capability development for the Board could be enhanced by some areas, it was clearly stated that Board members consider it as their own responsibility to stay uptodate on the skills relevant for their role.

If you are interested in the full details of the study, please contact afiedler@denisoncultureeurope.com
We would like to thank all participants for their contribution.