Not long ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued new rules requiring public companies to be more transparent regarding the structure of their boards of directors and the boards' responsibilities regarding risk oversight, as well as the nature of executive compensation. Since the financial crisis, stockholders have also been more interested in who sits on their companies' boards and whether they will do their jobs regarding risk oversight well. As such, companies are much pickier when nominating new board members.
Case in point: Apple. After CEO Steve Jobs took leave to deal with health issues that eventually resulted in a liver transplant, regulators wondered how much the board actually knew but did not reveal to shareholders at the time. There were questions regarding whether failure to disclose such information was a disservice to shareholders considering how closely tied the company's success has been to Jobs' leadership.
In December 2009, Avon CEO Andrea Jung, a true "outsider" to the company and the only woman on Apple's board, replaced Jobs' mentor and former Apple exec Bill Campbell as co-lead director. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Jung gives the board "a more independent voice." Her first shareholder meeting as co-lead director is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25.