In the News

CEO Succession Value and Best Practices
August 18, 2011

During the webinar in which Yvonne Chen and Matt Turner of Pearl Meyer & Partners highlighted the need for solid CEO succession and compensation plans, a participant asked if there was any data on the success of internally developed CEOs versus those brought in from the outside. posted a summary of an article by Karen Kane and Fred G. Steingraber that outlined the findings of the Kelley School of Business of Indiana University study that examined the most successful companies of the S&P 500 during a 20-year period. The posting invites directors to contact the author directly for a copy of the article that identified a group of 36 S&P 500 non-financial companies, that was distinguished by consistent, superior leaders outperforming the remaining S&P 500 firms in seven measurable metrics.

CEO Succession: Build a Strong Internal Process

Corporate Board Magazine
July/August 2011

By Fred G. Steingraber, Karen Kane, Richard Magjuka and  Chip Snively

The status quo in cororate America has been for the board to take a hands-off approach to CEO succession planning and development. Then, when the inside process fails, rush to hire a new outsider.  This article documents what wise directors have always suspected–the best boards make leadership succession a priority and well-nurtured CEOs deliver the strongest results. Read article »

Making Boards Better

Briefings on Talent & Leadership
3Q, 2011

In her article in the current issue of Briefings on Talent & Leadership, Karen Kane writes that good governance requires board leadership and discipline. The CEO-chairman holds the levers of power. “He can give the board the budget and the independence to create a small but powerful work group of dedicated advisers to help him to think through the many challenges of running a complex global business…In the face of global competition, complex issues and interdependencies, the idea of bringing together a group of leaders who can focus their intelligence and collective experience on expanding his capabilities might actually make sense.” Read article »

Apple Proposal Shows Shareholder Power

March 14, 2011

Interviewed by Amanda Gerut for her lead story in the March 14, 2011 issue of AgendaWeek, Karen Kane noted that the Laborers’ International Union of North America (Liuna) proposal represents the beginning of a pattern of shareholder engagement on succession that could further unfold during this proxy season. “It’s a sea change for directors,” she says. “The whole idea of shareholder engagement is a new idea for many of them.” Karen Kane Consulting prepares boards for constructive engagement with shareholders.

Boards Review Resignation Policies

January 18, 2011

Karen Kane is among the governance experts interviewed in Agenda Week about board resignation policies.  Karen notes the importance of annual board evaluations. Some boards like Piedmont Natural Gas have very specific policies about what actions should prompt a director resignation. A board discussion about the policy is a crucial first step.  Read Boards Review Resignation Policies ».

“What Boards Need to Do to Preserve Their Relevance and Provide Value in the World of the New Normal”

Corporate Finance Review
July August 2010

By Karen Kane and Fred Steingraber

In their cover story for Corporate Finance Review, the authors investigate the causes of board dysfunction and illustrate ways for corporate boards to reclaim their reputation. To regain the trust of shareholders and regulators, boards will have to reestablish their governance authority. It requires a culture change, including an acknowledgement of the role of shareholders in the governance process and a recommitment to excellence.  Directors will be required to reexamine and even revise board committees and committee work. This will require new skills and qualifications as well as more time and effort to understand the companies they serve, to provide effective oversight in representing the interests of shareholders, and to hold management accountable. Read article »

“Boards Need to Regain High Ground and Preserve Relevance”

Directorship Magazine
June/July 2010

In their column, The Director’s Chair, Karen Kane and Fred G. Steingraber describe the substantive changes boards need to make to regain the trust needed to re-establish their governance authority. This fundamental shift in the breadth and focus of board work will bring boards back to the proper oversight of management and focus on leadership development, corporate strategy corporate performance and risk enterprise which will also strengthening the enterprise itself. Download copy of column “From the Director’s Chair” »

“Who Speaks for the Board?”

Directors & Boards
2Q, 2010

Karen Kane’s describes the importance of board communication in the Second Quarter issue of Directors & Boards magazine. In her article, “Communicating by Proxy Is No Longer Enough” she concurs with a number of others that Jim Kristie recruited to opine on the issue including Robert Dilenschneider, Jay Lorsch, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, and Howard Rubenstein about the new skill of communication that boards must cultivate and the importance of getting communication help, which is a vital issue of board leadership. Read “Who Speaks For the Board.” »

What Have You Done to Help Your Board with This Year’s Annual Meeting?

IR Alert
May 12, 2010

Addressing Investor Relations Officers, (IROs), Karen Kane asks if your board thinks it has “escaped” say on pay or other shareholder petitions and advises IROs to help directors see the opportunity for board-shareholder engagement. In this new era of transparency and disclosure, boards need to understand the quality of shareholder interactions and ensure that the company provides transparent, effective shareholder communication across multiple audiences including investors, brokers, owner research groups, employees, customers, and the community and public at large. Read “Full Disclosure” commentary »

“Giving Boards Their Voice”

Briefings on Talent & Leadership
1Q, 2010

The shift from behind-the-scenes advisors to highly accountable public figures is a profound transformation that boards are only beginning to grasp. In this article for Korn Ferry International’s Briefings on Talent & Leadership, Karen Kane discusses the importance of board-shareholder communication. By establishing independent communication, boards and their companies may succeed in quieting dissenting shareholders and even winning the confidence of investors enabling companies to operate in the interests of the long term. Read article »

“Corporate Leaders at Risk as Feds Take Over”

January 9, 2010

Directors have an opportunity to demonstrate and communicate proactive leadership in restoring trust and sound governance, advise Fred G. Steingraber and Karen Kane in their opinion article published in the Houston Chronicle. “But, they need to move beyond the audit and accounting risks and an overall compliance mentality and look ahead to the larger issue of ensuring the long-term value of the enterprise. Directors are best positioned to create solutions. Read article ».

“Directors Seek to Combat Misperception of Board Role”

September 21, 2009

From Agenda Karen Kane, president of Karen Kane Consulting, which advises boards on their communication strategies, says directors will need to adopt a more visible, public role in order to successfully deal with the consequences of public confusion and anger over the way some companies have been run.

“Boards have been invisible,” observes Karen Kane. “But after the bailout of iconic companies, boards are being held much more accountable.  Directors need to speak up. They need to let shareholders and Congress know they are competent and effective. Boards can further their own interests by clearly stating their expertise, what they do, and how they bring oversight to the management of their companies.” Read article »

“Six Steps to Building Trust and Engaging Shareholders”
July 2009

By Karen Kane

“Now more than ever, boards must convey how their work contributes to the strength and soundness of the enterprises they oversee. Consider that scrutiny of the boards is on the rise as taxpayers have essentially become phantom shareholders through the public bailout of the private sector. Unlike shareholders who may be more educated about the role of the board of directors, the public at large may not understand the function—and value—of the governance role.  How do boards of directors build trust in this era of greater accountability?” Read article ».

“Catching Flak with Aplomb”
June 10, 2009

“The first rule when handling such vitriol is to keep your composure, say public speaking experts, and to resist the urge to fire back. “Parsons was described as polite and unflappable to those with concerns,” said Karen Kane, founder of Karen Kane Consulting, citing the Citigroup meeting as one of the most successfully managed angry shareholder situations in recent memory. “You need to go in being polite to shareholders,” she emphasized. Read article »

“Best Practices for Board Communication”

The Corporate Board Magazine
May/June Issue 2009

By Karen Kane

“This annual meeting season will see investors hungry for answers as never before—and often angry about stock price meltdowns. Increasingly, shareholders are looking beyond the chief executive to the board of directors for assurance. Has your board laid the groundwork and developed the skills, counsel and technology to effectively “tell your story”?Read article »

“How Boards Can Repair Public Trust in Corporate America”

April 6, 2009

While experts emphasize the need for boards to evaluate reputation with a long-term view, there are things they can do to improve their stature among the public in the short term. Boards can help restore public trust in their organizations and themselves through a strategic communications policy, according to Karen Kane, principal of Karen Kane Consulting and former board secretary for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Her firm advises boards on their communication strategy. She says it can be as simple as boards disclosing how often and how long they are meeting to help their companies through this difficult time. Read article »

“Capping Compensation Won’t Solve Bank Crisis”

The Houston Chronicle, Outlook
Sunday, February 22, 2009

By Karen Kane

“A board with a strategic shareholder communication plan can use transparency and communication as effective risk management tools. Conversely, a board with its head in the sand pretending no one is looking is courting disaster or shareholder mistrust.” Read article »

Board Communications Study

A Review of Board Communication Practices, and a Vision for Authenticity in Corporate Governance Download executive summary »