Most corporate citizens would agree that corporate directors are among their most important and most demanding constituencies. But ironically, we think that Directors are among the most under-served constituencies of all – at least where “reaching out” is concerned. Here are a few things that are normally sure to please Directors…plus some hints on prepping for and reaching out in a crisis:

Reaching out to directors with some good Director Education Programs

Those gosh-darned university off-sites aimed at Directors seem to be proliferating like flies on a warm mincemeat pie – although lately, a bit of much needed consolidation seems to be afoot.

The last thing YOU want to do is to enroll a Director in a program where they are the only Director who’s not on the panel – or one where lawyers and other wannabe vendors outnumber them ten to one.

Worst of all is when directors find the same tired old crows of “usual suspects” – the same self-anointed governance “gurus” who bored them to tears last year.

There are some very good programs out there, of course. So do your homework. And be sure to network extensively with your colleagues.

And please  note that the Director-Ed programs that get the highest grades from Directors are those that have been custom-designed – specifically for them if they’re new…or for the Board as a whole if there is something really new on the governance scene, or if a brief review and catch-up session may seem warranted.

Reaching out to Director with a Well-Designed and Well-Delivered Board Survey 

Research indicates that annual board performance evaluations have become the norm.

In fact, that NYSE Corporate Governance Standards require that the Boards of listed companies and their mandated Board committees (Audit, Governance and Compensation) undertake annual performance self-evaluations (with the Governance Committee overseeing the evaluation of the Board). Investors expect boards to conduct them and professional directors understand the value they provide. 

But time constraints – and a variety of “logistical consideration” often stand in the way of delivering the best possible product. Surprisingly, only 21% of all companies that conduct such evaluations review performance at every level – the full board, committees and individual directors. Only 17% use a third party to conduct these evaluations, although in my experience, retaining a trusted and experienced firm to conduct these assessments provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen the culture of the board.

In response, our firm has developed a proprietary web-based board evaluation tool. It is easy to use and customize. It greatly reduces the amount of time directors need to spend on filling out forms. It provides prompt results and absolute confidentiality.

Collecting the data independently and using a trusted third-party to deliver it allows the board to dedicate its time to reviewing the data together, which begins an important collaborative process around improving board culture.

Mr. Levine is a Director of Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (BR), and a member of the Advisory Council on the New York Stock Exchange that focuses on boardroom guidelines for the new director. For more information, visit