Monday AM November 3rd, 2008

Rampant greed, a lack of regulation and oversight and poor corporate governance are all blamed for the international financial meltdown. Corporate boards are coming under increasing fire, and a New York public relations firm is distributing a special report on the board in a crisis economy. Ed Mayberry reports.
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The Dilenschneider Group in New York City has issued a special report on the Board in a Crisis Economy, saying there's an urgency for management and boards to work together to achieve real transparency and accountability.  Barbara Ettore, a strategic public relations specialist, says boards should review all pay arrangements and performance criteria for the top officers of a company, making executive compensation as bullet-proof as possible.

"And publicize these amended plans in simple terms for everybody.  This is something that can be done very pro-active.  We're in an unprecedented time.  It's (an) unprecedented and comprehensive solution and most boards have never, frankly, done this level of examination before."

Ettorre says make the board as strong as you can.

"Get rid of the under-performing directors, attract qualified people — that's going to be hard because these people are already busy — who ask the tough questions, who work well in a crisis, and who will push back management when they have to."

Ettorre recommends building a strong board made of capable people who are comfortable with risk and crisis and recognize warning signs.

"They may not be able to prevent softening of the stock price, but they may be able to forestall others telling them what they have to do.  As I said, these are unprecedented times.  It calls for unprecedented attention and accountability."

Corporate boards can expect more governmental probes.

"I see a tougher Securities and Exchange Commission, which is going to make a director's job even more difficult. And new legislation: we all know about Sarbanes-Oxley, which was enacted in 2002.  I wouldn't be surprised if we see more regulations, like Sarbanes-Oxley on steroids."

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...