January 23, 2020 - Issue 6.02 - Your weekly news on all things board.
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Carbon competition? Following announcements from Amazon (to go carbon neutral by 2040) and Intel (to be carbon negative by 2030), Microsoft says it will extract more carbon from the air by 2050 than it has produced since its founding in 1975. Cisco and Autodesk, also making big strides in addressing their environmental impact, land spots among the top 5 most sustainable corporations in the world. Meanwhile Xerox is using a small stake it bought in HP to nominate 11 new directors, as part of an attempted takeover. Allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination shine a spotlight on the the Grammy Awards just before showtime, and Best Buy's board is investigating allegations that its CEO engaged in an inappropriate romantic liaison with a colleague. A new study from MIT suggests that boards looking to bring more innovation into strategy discussions would be wise to ensure there are women directors sitting at the table.

In the Spotlight

Microsoft Pledges To Go 'Carbon Negative' As Corporations Feel the Heat

“Microsoft Corp. is pledging to eliminate its carbon emissions and invest $1 billion as part of a wider climate commitment, raising the stakes in the corporate race to show greater awareness of environmental concerns. The software company said that it would become ‘carbon negative’ by 2030—taking more carbon out of the air than its operations and those of its supply chain produce…. By 2050, Microsoft said, it plans to eliminate all emissions it has produced since its founding in 1975. Companies are increasingly feeling pressure to take action on emissions.” WALL STREET JOURNAL

Cisco, AutoDesk Among 'Most Sustainable Companies in the World'

“An annual ranking from Canadian research firm Corporate Knights ... scrutinized more than 7,000 companies to identify the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. In the top spot ... is Danish renewable energy provider Ørsted.... European companies dominate the rankings, accounting for 49 of the 100 spots.… Though the U.S. didn’t account for a large share of the list, two companies earned spots in the top five. One is communications and technology giant Cisco Systems, which moved up 10 spots compared to the 2019 ranking thanks to the more than $25 billion in clean revenues it earned from ‘products with environmental core attributes.’ The other is software company Autodesk, which rose 43 spots from the 2019 ranking because it now uses 99% renewable energy to run its cloud platforms, and those platforms also help to build green buildings and support better designs for a circular economy.” FAST COMPANY

Across the Board


Xerox Aims to Install 11 New Directors at HP In Takeover Attempt

“Xerox is preparing to nominate as many as 11 directors to HP’s board, according to people familiar with matter, in an aggressive move to push a $33 billion unsolicited takeover bid for the maker of computers and printers. Xerox in recent weeks bought a small HP stake, which gives it the right to nominate directors for elections to be held at the company’s annual meeting this summer, the people said … Xerox in November offered to buy its much larger rival for $22 a share in cash and stock. HP rejected the bid as too low and questioned Xerox’s ability to finance it.” WALL STREET JOURNAL

Hallmark CEO Departs After Firestorm Over Same-Sex Wedding Ad

“Hallmark announced Wednesday the chief executive of its subsidiary overseeing the Hallmark Channel is stepping down, a month after the network was at the center of backlash over its decision to pull a same-sex marriage advertisement. Crown Media Family Networks CEO Bill Abbott is leaving the company with a replacement yet to be announced, Hallmark Cards, Inc. said in a press release. The news comes after Hallmark Channel was caught up in controversy after pulling a Zola commercial featuring a lesbian couple's wedding amid conservative pressure.” NBC NEWS

Best Buy CEO Faces Allegations of Misconduct

“Best Buy’s board is probing allegations that the electronics retailer’s CEO Corie Barry had an inappropriate romantic relationship with another company executive. The board had received an anonymous letter that said Barry had a years-long relationship with former Best Buy senior vice president Karl Sanft before she became CEO in June 2019. Sanft did not immediately respond to CNBC for comment. The electronics retailer’s board retained outside counsel to investigate the allegations.”  CNBC

Ousted Grammy's CEO Files Harassment, Discrimination Complaint

"With only days until the Grammy Awards, ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan filed an explosive discrimination complaint Tuesday alleging unlawful gender discrimination, sexual harassment, unlawful retaliation and unequal pay against the academy. The complaint, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accuses the academy of improper self-dealing by board members, voting irregularities with respect to nominations for Grammy Awards, shunning Dugan's attempts at fostering diversity and transparency, and other misconduct.” USA TODAY

Desperately Seeking Innovation? Add More Women to your Board

“As the economy continues to be reshaped by changing technologies, companies keep searching for ways to better integrate innovation into their strategy. No industry is immune to this need. One way to meet the challenge: focus on gender diversity on corporate boards. Although evidence on the relationship between gender diversity on boards and financial performance is mixed, studies suggest that gender diversity can play an important role in supporting innovative activity and organizational change. For example, companies with greater gender diversity are associated with higher R&D intensity, obtain more patents, and report higher levels of overall innovation (particularly when there is a critical mass of women directors).” MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW

Intel Welcomes New Chairman: Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak

“Intel Corp. announced Tuesday afternoon that former Chief Financial Officer Andy Bryant stepped down as chairman of the chip maker last week, and will be succeeded by Medtronic PLC Chief Executive Omar Ishrak … Ishrak will be replaced on the board by Alyssa Henry, a top executive at San Francisco payments company Square Inc. who previously worked for Inc. and Microsoft Corp.” MARKETWATCH

Balancing Short-Term Pressure and Long-Term Value? Engage Your CFO

“Operating at the nexus of short-term performance pressures and the behaviors that promote long-term value creation within the firm, the chief financial officer has a unique ability to drive long-term value creation for the organization.... When it comes to managing the multiple demands on a company, the CFO has a unique role within the C-suite—responsible for both managing short-term performance pressures and driving behaviors that support long-term value creation. What pressures do CFOs face? How are CFOs uniquely positioned? Where does the CFO’s long-term focus originate? And what practical actions can a CFO take to navigate short-term and long-term tradeoffs?” HARVARD LAW SCHOOL FORUM ON CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

In Case You Missed It

10 Hot Topics in the 2020 Boardroom

With complexity, uncertainty, and rapid change dominating the business landscape, the expectations placed on boards are shifting, and fast. Put simply, board members are expected to do more, do it better, and take greater accountability than ever before. Boardspan’s Top 10 list calls out the issues that most boards will be tackling in 2020. Don’t be surprised if your colleagues raise these topics — and if they don’t, maybe you should. BOARDSPAN

Seat at the Table

  • Travel technology company Sabre elects as chairman Karl Peterson to replace Larry Kellner, who is stepping down as chairman to focus on his new responsibilities as chairman of the board at Boeing
  • Business information and news agency Thomson Reuters appoints to its board Kirk E. Arnold, former COO of Avid, a media technology company
  • Eileen Drake, CEO and president of defense manufacturer RocketDyne, joins the board of Girl Scouts of the USA
  • Judy Schmeling, former COO of retailer HSN and a director of alcoholic beverage producer Constellation Brands, is appointed as  board chair of cannabis company Canopy Growth
  • Spice and flavor purveyor McCormick & Company elects to its board Anne Bramman, CFO of Nordstrom
  • Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, joins the board of fast-food chain Bojangles
  • Spok Holdings, a healthcare communications company, appoints to its board Dr. Bobbie Byrne, CIO of Advocate Aurora Health, a medical facilities company
  • Lydia Ventura Paterson, CFO of online marketplace OLX Group, joins the board of online learning company Udemy
  • Neustar, a data analytics company, elects to its board Alison Lewis, former SVP at Kimberly-Clark
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