More Companies Look to Fill Board Seats with HR Execs

Lora Bentley

When Sarbanes-Oxley was new on the scene, corporate boards suddenly became more diverse, and people with auditing and accounting backgrounds were given more serious consideration for board seats. In the early days following the collapse of the markets, risk managers were in demand, and we saw more executive suite members with titles like chief risk officer, VP of risk management and the like.


Now, since executive pay limits and restrictions are likely to be such a big part of the coming financial industry reform, more corporate boards are looking for human-resources heavyweights. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that "at least 65 current and former human-resources managers serve as outside directors on 101 boards." Some of those boards include: Sally Beauty Supply, CSX Corp., The Coca-Cola Co., SprintNextel and Dean Foods.


As WSJ writer Joann S. Lublin points out:

Even human-resource specialists are seeking boardroom help. Consulting firm Hewitt Associates Inc., which advises other companies on HR practices, last year recruited William J. Conaty, a retired HR chief at General Electric Co., for its board. Hewitt wanted Mr. Conaty's assistance attracting and developing top talent, says CEO Russell P. Fradin.

HR specialists can also provide much-needed insight on succession planning and managing mergers, the story says.

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