Staley’s piece focuses on the impact activists are having on board composition. And he features Stephens’ commentary throughout the article – with his insight constituting the bulk of the piece – alongside research from ISS, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), and the Investor Responsibility Research Center.
In “Activist investors are making corporate boards whiter and more male”, Staley writes:
…Anxiety about becoming a target of activists is pushing all boards to become more conservative in how they operate, including who they nominate to vacancies, says Barrett Stephens, the CEO of RSR Partners, a global executive search firm…“Boards are thinking much more proactively about warding off activists, and not giving them any excuse,” Stephens said… While most big corporations are convinced of the value of a diverse board—either for the sake of appearances, or because it’s better for business—activist investor funds don’t care, Stephens said. “They don’t have to worry about it,” he said… There’s one exception, he said. Activists will go after any weakness—if they happen to go after a board made up of white men, then they’ll attack the company’s lack of diversity.
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