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Board effectiveness: C-Suite assessment of board performance

Board effectiveness: Company understanding only goes so far

When it comes to evaluating board performance, executives are clear — they want more from their boards of directors. This is what executives had to say.

PwC, in collaboration with The Conference Board, has surveyed the state of the boardroom from the perspective of the C-suite — putting a rare spotlight on their unique vantage point. The findings show that executives are confident in the board’s overall understanding of the company’s business. But they give lower marks in areas such as IT, ESG and crisis management. Executives are also concerned about corporate directors’ lack of preparedness, the number of boards on which they serve (overboarding), and their overall effectiveness.

This may come as a surprise to many board members. While 49% of directors* agree that one or more of their board colleagues should be replaced, an astounding 82% of executives say the same.

*Surveyed in our 2020 Annual Corporate Directors Survey
Board effectiveness
Low mark for boards on crisis management oversight
Director preparedness falls short

Finding a better way forward: Actions to consider

Meeting the challenge to improve corporate boards requires effort and coordination between the C-suite and their directors. Here are next steps — and key resources — for executives and directors to consider as they work together to optimize performance and bridge the gaps.

Work with management to identify gaps and put a plan in place to improve. Consider:

  • Reassessing the board and committee self-evaluation processes, including the best way to receive input from management.

  • Looking for opportunities to deepen your understanding of specialized topics — through continuing education or other means.

  • Opening the dialogue with your executive team about board operations, including how executives can better provide the support the board needs.

  • Focusing on succession planning.

  • Improving board oversight of a crisis before the next one occurs.

Board of directors

Consider how the executive team can help to support the board and improve board practices. 

This might include:

  • Seeking feedback from directors on how agenda, materials and presentations could be improved, so you can make it easier for the board to meaningfully engage.

  • Ensuring that the board is receiving enough educational opportunities to be effective, as directors are not living these issues every day.

  • Contributing insights about what the board might be missing and where to focus in the future.

Executive C-suite

Contact us

Paul DeNicola

Paul DeNicola

Principal, Governance Insights Center, PwC US

Maria Castañón Moats

Maria Castañón Moats

Governance Insights Center Leader, PwC US

Leah Malone

Leah Malone

Director, Governance Insights Center, PwC US

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Bridging gaps isn’t easy

PwC can help provide a roadmap that sets a firm foundation for a board-management relationship going forward. Contact us for resources, best practices or even to help guide a candid discussion between board members and management.

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