Archive for the ‘boards’ Category

Splitting CEO & Chair

Research in Motion (a.k.a. “RIM”, maker of the Blackberry) has been under pressure to split the role of CEO and Chair. RIM has been facing serious scrutiny of late, and questions have arisen in particular about whether the company needs new leadership. Splitting the role of CEO and Chair would be an awfully good start.

See this Globe & Mail story, by Janet McFarland: Shareholder calls for splitting CEO, chair roles at RIM.

A small investor in Research In Motion Ltd. …is anticipating big support for a shareholder resolution calling on the BlackBerry maker to split the jobs of CEO and chairman.

Mutual fund company Northwest & Ethical Investments LP has argued RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis should not also be co-chairs of the company’s board, arguing a “high performance” board needs independent oversight of management.

The story quotes Bob Walker, vice-president of Ethical Funds at Northwest & Ethical, as saying that keeping the two roles “has become standard practice, not just best practice.” More to the point, perhaps, is that it has become widely-recognized not just as standard, but as best. The board’s job is to oversee the CEO, and it’s hard to do that effectively if the CEO runs the board. (This was precisely the point of Friday’s blog entry on conflict of interest among mayors and chairs.)

You may well hear people point out that there’s no evidence that splitting the roles of CEO and Chair is beneficial, in the sense of increasing long-term shareholder value (or in terms of any other outcomes, for that matter). Fair enough. But to say that there’s no evidence is not to say that there’s no reason. Shareholders have a right to good governance, and that right doesn’t depend on concerete outcomes, any more than a client’s right to zealous legal representation does.

There’s another reason to favour splitting the chair & CEO. Even if such a split isn’t directly correlated with increasing shareholder value, it may well be correlated with other things that matter. My colleague Matt Fullbrook, of the Clarkson Centre for Board Effectiveness, puts it this way:

Since the early 2000s, splitting the Chair/CEO roles has become the norm in Canada, and with good reason: more than any other individual governance best practice, Chair/CEO split with an independent chair is highly correlated with adoption of other good governance practices and disclosure. That there is still push-back on splitting the roles is baffling.

Conflict of Interest for Mayors (and Other Committee Chairs)

This is a blog entry ostensibly about municipal politics, but with real lessons for the world of business.

I was on CBC radio yesterday (along with corporate governance expert Prof. Richard Lelblanc) to talk about conflict of interest case involving Halifax’s city council (technical the Council for Halifax Regional Municipality).

To make a long story short: the Mayor was involved in some financial irregularities that may (I honestly don’t know) just be a matter of either poor judgment or poor understanding of proper procedures. Whatever. The interesting part came when some members of Council wanted to reprimand the Mayor for his role in those decisions. The Mayor insisted on chairing the discussion, and indeed even voted on the matter when it came up for a vote. (Here’s an article about the fiasco, by Michael Lightstone for the Chronicle Herald: Halifax council won’t suspend mayor.)

Needless to say, in participating in the vote over his own fate, the Mayor was in a rather significant conflict of interest. He had an official duty to exercise, one that required the exercise of judgment. And he clearly also had a very significant personal interest in the matter, one that any reasonable outsider would be justified in suspecting of influencing the Mayor’s judgment.

Now it always bears repeating: conflict of interest is not an accusation. It is a situation one finds oneself in. There’s nothing unethical about being in a conflict of interest. (If a lawyer finds out that one of her clients wants to sue another of her clients, she is in a conflict of interest, through absolutely no fault of her own.) What matters is how you deal with the conflict.

The best thing for the Mayor to do would have been to:

  • recognize the conflict,
  • put it on the table, and
  • recuse himself (i.e., hand over the gavel, decline to vote, and preferably leave the room so that the rest of Council could have a full and frank discussion).

What’s really at stake in conflict of interest has very little to do with the integrity of individuals. Rather, it has to do with the integrity of a decision-making process, and of an institution. So the worry is not that the Mayor would necessarily have been biased in how he chaired Council that evening. Maybe he bent over backwards to be fair in his chairing duties. Who knows? And that’s the point. We don’t know, but for important institutions we need a high level of certainty that key decision-makers are exercising their judgment in the interests of those they serve, rather than themselves.

And there, of course, is the lesson for the world of business, and in particular for corporate governance. A Mayor, effectively, is the CEO of a City. In addition, he or she also is “chair of the board of directors,” where the board here is City Council. In the world of municipal politics, it is relatively rare for Council (normally chaired by the Mayor) to sit in judgment of the Mayor as chief executive. But in the corporate world, such judgment is a big part of the job of a board of directors. And that is precisely why it is widely considered “best practice” for the CEO not to also serve as Chair. One of the Board’s key roles is to advise and oversee the CEO. Doing so requires that the Board be able to deliberate in a way that is reasonably independent from the CEO’s own influence. Any organization that has the CEO act as chair of the very body that must regularly deliberate over his or her own performance is not just “finding” itself faced by a conflict of interest, but is actively constructing one.

Want to Avoid Scandal at the Top? Hire a Woman!

There’s an antiquated quip / greeting-card slogan / bumper sticker that says, “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.” I say “antiquated” because in 2011, we all know that very often — let’s say half the time — the best person for the job is a woman. That’s far beyond “sometimes.” But there’s one job-related talent that seems to make women especially qualified for positions of senior leadership, and that is their apparent ability to avoid bringing themselves, and their organizations, into disrepute by involving themselves scandals.

See this story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, for the NY Times: When it Comes to Scandal, Girls Won’t Be Boys

Female politicians rarely get caught up in sex scandals. Women in elective office have not, for instance, blubbered about Argentine soul mates (see: Sanford, Mark); been captured on federal wiretaps arranging to meet high-priced call girls (Spitzer, Eliot); resigned in disgrace after their parents paid $96,000 to a paramour’s spouse (Ensign, John) or, as in the case of Mr. Weiner, blasted lewd self-portraits into cyberspace….

Now, Stolberg’s piece is about male vs female political leadership. But the same point can be made in the corporate world. What do the names Skilling, Madoff, Boesky, and Hurd all have in common? Well in addition to referring to persons implicated in major scandals, they all have the title “Mr” in front of them. Indeed, it’s relatively hard to name a female CEO or other senior executive who was culpable in a headline-making scandal. Martha Stewart’s name comes to mind, but her insider trading had nothing to do with her executive position. (And sure, Oprah Winfrey, CEO of Harpo Productions, gave Jenny McCarthy her own TV show, but that’s a different kind of scandal.)

Of course, we have to be careful with letting anecdotes stand in for stats, here. The first and most obvious reason why my male CEOs are involved in more scandals is because there are more CEOs. According to the Globe and Mail, “Only 17 per cent of corporate officers and 13 per cent of directors at Canada’s top 500 private and public sector companies are female.” According to Catalyst (a nonprofit aimed at expanding business opportunities for women), only 30 of The Financial Post 500 companies are headed by women. In the US, the numbers seem even lower: as of 2009, there were just 13 female CEOs in the Fortune 500.

Still, it does seem that males are liable to be involved in scandals out of proportion to their statistical dominance in the C-suite. Male CEOs seem more likely to behave badly than female ones. Does this have anything to do with the documented correlation between testosterone and financial risk-taking? Hard to say. But it wouldn’t be that surprising if a tendency toward risky behaviour in one domain were correlated with a tendency toward risky behaviour in another.

So should boards of directors actually discriminate against men, given the male tendency to become embroiled in scandals? No. For one thing, the fact that “more” male CEOs than female CEOs seem to get into hot water has to be put into context: very few CEOs of either sex get themselves into the kind of trouble that makes headlines. So to say that men are more likely to get into trouble is like saying that the risk of getting hit by lightning is higher than the risk of shark attack: both risks are in fact tiny. And besides, we probably don’t want to advocate discrimination against individuals based on their membership in a group that merely has a statistical tendency towards a particular weakness. But then again, such a statistically-driven hiring bias might well be better than the entirely baseless bias that results in their being so few female CEOs in the first place.

Ethics of Golden Handshakes

When an executive leaves in disgrace, what does the organization owe him or her? How should a Board handle such situations? In some cases, contractual obligations may seem to settle the matter, but contracts can be contested. Should they be? Does the IMF’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn deserve a quarter million dollars?

For further food for thought, see this story, by Tom Hals and Dena Aubin, for Reuters: Strauss-Kahn severance revisits CEO pay dilemma

The IMF now faces a challenge that keeps members of corporate compensation committees up at night: explaining why they may have to pay a handsome severance package to an indicted executive.

Former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, facing charges of attempted rape in New York, resigned his post from the global lender on Wednesday.

Strauss-Kahn’s contract entitles him to a one-time severance payment of $250,000, the IMF said on Friday….

Whether a Board of Directors should attempt to fight in order not to pay severance to an executive who has brought disgrace upon the organization is clearly going to depend on the circumstances. But it serves as a good example of the conflict between two different styles of moral reasoning. On one hand, a Board thinking primarily in terms of consequences might well reason this way: “Look, we need to get past this unfortunate incident. Let’s pay this guy the money his contract says he is owed, and be done with it. It’s better for the firm, overall, if we pay and get this finished.” On the other hand, a Board might think primarily in terms of justice: “This guy has brought shame (or at least notoriety) upon the organization. He doesn’t deserve a dime. We should fight for what’s fair.”

The tension between these two styles of moral reasoning is an ancient one, and it’s perfectly reasonable to find something attractive in both styles of reasoning. But the fact that both kinds of reasons might occur to a single group of people — a Board of Directors — in a single situation implies an interesting question. Even if we were to agree (even for sake of argument) that a Board of Directors’ main obligation is to serve the interests of the organization and its shareholders, that still leaves open this important question: should a Board of Directors seek the best outcomes for the organization and its shareholders, or should it seek justice for it and for them?

Should Boards Monitor CEO Morality?

A Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the management and direction of a company, and that task includes monitoring the full range of risks to which a company might be subject. But what if the company’s CEO is one of those risks? What should a board do when a CEO’s off-the-job behaviour raises concerns? The IMF’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a case in point. Long before his recent arrest, Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour towards women raised eyebrows. Should it also have spurred the IMF’s Board to act?

See this story, by Janet McFarland, in the Globe and Mail: When and how to confront a wayward leader

Most corporate directors find it hard enough to confront a respected CEO about work-related poor performance, but it is even harder to tip-toe into the minefield of rumours about problems in an executive’s personal life.

(I’ve blogged before about whether ‘private’ vice is a business issue. I’ve also written about whether a CEO’s divorce is a purely personal matter or not.)

McFarland quotes me in her story, but let me give a slightly fuller version of my comments here.

To start, it’s worth making a distinction. There are personal vices that are strictly personal (including most of what goes on between consenting adults behind closed doors.) And there are personal vices that are very likely to impinge upon the workplace or on performance at work. A tendency to engage in sexual harassment is an obvious example, as is heavy drug use.) But, when you’re a CEO of a name-brand organization, that distinction tends to break down. High profile means that personal vices can turn public very quickly, and affect the organization.

Also, bad behaviour on the part of those in the public eye can easily lead to blackmail, which can result in misuse of position and other kinds of bad decision-making. This is another example of why great power brings great responsibility.

On the other hand, there are lines boards should be hesitant to cross, on principled grounds. A CEO’s sexual orientation, for example, should be off-limits. This is obviously less of an issue in 2011 than it would have been in 1951, but even today a gay CEO might be seen as a risk factor (especially for an organization with a conservative customer base) but boards should take a principled stand against taking an interest in their CEO’s sexuality. The board has fiduciary duties to protect the company, but even fiduciary duties have their limits.

The last point I want to make here is that, when faced with a CEO’s bad behaviour, a Board faces more than a yes-or-no question. The ethical question here is not just a matter of whether to confront the CEO, but how to do it. A Board in such a situation needs to formulate a plan — a method of proceeding, including answers to questions like:

  • Will the Chair of the Board approach the CEO solo, or should an ad hoc committee do it?
  • Should they raise the issue explicitly, or obliquely?
  • Should they give the CEO an ultimatum, or ask his or her suggestions for how things might improve?
  • Given various anticipated responses by the CEO, how will the Board/Chair plan to react in turn?

Governance, Both Political and Corporate

The word “governance” (as in, “corporate governance”) is obviously quite similar to the word “government.” And just as obviously, that’s no coincidence. The two words share the same roots. In the abstract, the word “governance” just refers to the act of governing something. But it’s not just the meaning of the words that overlaps — it’s the people doing the work. At the highest levels, people often move from the world of business into the world of politics, and vice versa.

A few quick points about this.

1) The fact that there’s some flow back-and-forth between government and the corporate world is not at all surprising. After all, there’s considerable overlap in the skill-sets required in leadership positions in both domains. For example, I recently heard a top expert on corporate governance say that ex-politicians actually make very good corporate directors (and that was said based entirely on their skill-set — not, as you might guess, based on their political connections).

2) Some people do question the extent to which one world is good training for the other. See, for example, this recent story about former EBay CEO, Meg Whitman, who is currently in the running to become governor of California: Is EBay a proper primer for a governor? (by Stuart Pfeifer for the LA Times). Here’s one relevant bit:

Some former employees and Silicon Valley observers question whether a forceful corporate executive used to getting her way would be capable of the compromise needed in government.

“You certainly have many more freedoms as a CEO than you do as an elected official,” said Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State. “We don’t elect kings.”

3) It’s also noteworthy when a major politician acts in a way more common in the corporate world. In this regard, see the review (by Jordan Timm) in this week’s Canadian Business magazine (unfortunately not online yet) of Lawrence Martin’s Harperland, a book about Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. According to the review,

…this Prime Minister’s office has enjoyed privilege and authority more in the style of the corporate C-suite than the executive branch of a traditional Westminster government. That approach has been responsible for many of the Harper government’s successes, but it has also been at fault for many of its blunders and setbacks. And though the business and political worlds feature very different rules and accountabilities, executives can learn many lessons, both constructive and cautionary from Stephen Harper’s Ottawa.

4) In both kinds of governance (political and corporate) the main challenge lies in turning the will (and values) of the many (votes in one case, shareholders in the other) into decisions by a few (politicians in one case, executives and directors in the other) to be implemented by an in-between number (of civil servants in one case, and of corporate employees in the other). And in both cases, effective leadership seems to require that the leader engage in a combination of a) listening to their constituents, and b) exercising independent judgment.

I don’t have a grand point to make on this topic. But can anyone recommend essential reading on the intersection between corporate and political governance and/or leadership?

Is a Board Position a Conflict of Interest?

Here’s an story (in which I was quoted) by Paul Turenne, in the Winnipeg Sun: Gerrard slams WRHA manager’s ‘moonlighting’.

The story is basically about a senior executive (Brock Wright) at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (the public body responsible for administering hospitals in and around that city) who took a position on the Board of Directors of a small American medical technology company. Critics (like Opposition leader Gerard, named in the headline) called that a Conflict of Interest.

Now, a conflict of interest is basically any situation in which a person has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of judgment in his or her official duties.

So, to figure out whether there’s a problem here, a few elements need to be considered.

1) Does taking a Board position constitute an “personal interest” in the relevant sense? The one that’s usually (but not always) at stake is an interest in money. Well, And corporate board membership isn’t typically volunteer work. It involves a significant stipend, along with a good deal of personal prestige.

2) What bits of judgment might Wright need to exercise on behalf of WRHA that might be jeopardized by his board membership? The most obvious one is his involvement in purchasing decisions for the WRHA. In that regard, a spokesperson for the WRHA says:

This is a company the WRHA has no business relationship with. We have not purchased anything from them. If at any time they were to try to sell us something, Dr. Wright would of course remind us of his relationship with them and recuse himself from any discussions. Having said that, he’s not in a position to make decisions like that. We have a very strict policy about the tendering process

The bigger issue (though perhaps not insurmountable) is the judgment that Wright (or any employee) needs to exercise with regard to his own time management. Being a member of a corporate board isn’t an honourary thing: it comes with real responsibilities, and can take considerable time. So the question I would want to ask, if I where the WRHA, is how Wright plans to satisfy his duties as a member of the TearLab board (including possibly several trips a year to attend meetings in California) without diminishing the quality of his work in Winnipeg. If there’s reasonable plan to make that happen,

3) Finally, it’s worth noting (again and again) that being in a Conflict of Interest isn’t automatically unethical. (So it’s not, contrary to the headline used in another newspaper’s story about this issue, an accusation.) It is possible to end up in a Conflict of Interest through no fault of your own. And, finding yourself in a COI, what matters is what you do about it. Disclosing the COI to the person or organization relying on your judgment is usually considered step 1, and removing yourself from key decisions, if possible, is another standard move. But COI is at least sometimes worth tolerating, if managed appropriately. That does mean, though, that we should all be expected to think carefully, before putting ourselves into a Conflict of Interest, whether the risks are manageable, and whether in the end those risks are sufficient to constitute a disservice to those who rely upon our judgment.

Corporate Governance and Ethics

Corporate governance chart“Corporate governance” is the term used to refer to the policies and processes by which a corporation (or other large, complex institution) is controlled and directed. It refers especially to the way power and accountability flow between shareholders, boards of directors, CEOs, and senior managers.

For most corporations, the basic governance structure is this: shareholders vote for, and hence empower, a board of directors, who then have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for shareholders’ interests. The board hires a CEO, who is accountable to the board. The CEO (sometimes with input from the board) hires a management team, and so on. At each step, there is a flow of power down the chain (from shareholders through to front-line employees), and a flow of accountability back up that chain. And there are all sorts of rules — including various policies and principles of good governance — that establish how that power and accountability is to be implemented. There will be internal rules, for example (partly determined by relevant corporate law), about how board elections are to be carried out. There are also governance principles that apply to things like the inclusion of external, “independent” directors on the board.

In case it’s not obvious, I’ll say it explicitly: corporate governance is out-and-out a matter of ethics. It is about who is responsible to whom, and for what, and under what conditions.

Now, to an investor, governance might look first and foremost like a matter of economics: no one particularly wants to invest in a poorly-governed company. And governance is also legal matter (for example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 includes a number of requirements about corporate governance). Governance is properly a legal matter because (at least arguably) shareholders need protection from unscrupulous or merely lazy boards of directors and executives, and because the public interest is at stake when large companies are mis-governed. Enron used to be the prime example of poor governance practices having a devastating effect on shareholders and the broader public. These days we could probably look to a few major financial institutions for object lessons in the ill effects of bad governance.

But even where the law is silent, governance remains important: regardless of whether you think in terms of a narrow, shareholder-driven, profits-first perspective, or instead in terms of a broader ‘stakeholder’ approach, you simply have to agree that the way decisions get made, and the interests that corporate policies tell decision-makers to serve, are ethically important matters.

My mind is on governance a lot lately, not least because I’m currently a Visiting Scholar at the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness (at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management).

While I’m at Clarkson, I’m helping out with the CCBE blog. The blog is focused primarily on governance and board effectiveness, but in most cases the ethical implications of those issues are pretty clear. Today, for instance, the blog features a posting about changes in the way boards of directors are elected — and how at last some companies (including one Canadian company, Linamar Corp.) have been slow to catch on. Here’s the blog entry: Trend Watch: How are Directors Elected?

See also: the entry on Corporate Governance in the Concise Encyclopedia of Business Ethics.

Wall Street (1987) — “Greed is Good”

I just re-watched the original 1987 film, Wall Street. (The sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is in theatres now, and apparently doing very well.)

In the original Wall Street, Michael Douglas’s character, Gordon Gekko, is a corporate raider — essentially, he buys up underperforming companies, breaks them up and sells their parts at a healthy profit. What drives him? Greed, pure and simple. In one scene, Gekko appears at the annual shareholders’ meeting being held by Teldar Paper. Gekko owns shares, but wants more. He wants control of the company, though his motives for doing so are hidden. It is there that he delivers the speech that includes the movie’s most famous line. “Greed,” he tells the shareholders of Teldar, “is good.”

That line is the only thing a lot of people alive in the 80’s remember about Wall Street. And that’s a shame.

Here’s Gordon Gekko’s famous “Greed is good” speech, in its entirety:

Teldar Paper, Mr. Cromwell, Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated. In the last seven deals that I’ve been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars. Thank you. I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.

The first thing to note about this speech is how little of it is actually about greed — roughly the last third of the speech. The first two thirds is a critique (disingenuous, as it happens, but not therefore off-target) of the complacency of overpaid corporate executives. Gekko is advising Teldar’s shareholders that the people responsible for protecting their interests — Teldar’s executives and Board — have been doing a bad job.

How does that first part relate to the final third of the speech, the part about greed being good? Well, it’s worth noting that when Gekko first uses the word “greed,” he does so “for lack of a better word.” And Gekko, one-dimensional character that he is, probably does lack a better word for it. For him, it really is greed — the unseemly and excessive love of money. But Teldar’s shareholders don’t need personally to embrace greed in the Gordon Gekko sense. All they need to do is to see that their interests are not being served well, and to understand that Gekko’s own greed is likely to serve them better: he wants to make a killing on the Teldar deal, and if they let him do so, they’ll all make a little money themselves, along the way. His greed is good for them.

Is Gekko’s greed a good thing over all? Well, Gekko says nothing, in his speech, about the interests of other stakeholders in Teldar Paper, stakeholders such as the company’s employees for example. If Gekko breaks up the company, shareholders may benefit but employees will lose jobs. That’s a bad thing, but it’s also sometimes inevitable. Not all companies should stay in business.

No, greed is not good. But the point — the grain of truth in Gordon Gekko’s Machiavellian speech — is that if shareholders allow executives and Boards to operate inefficiently, rather than using what little power they have to improve their lot, then they are suckers, being taken for a ride. And there’s no particular virtue in that.

Symantec Directors: $250,000/Year Not Enough to Log in to Annual Meeting

The shareholders of a public company are sometimes said to own the company. That’s not literally true, for lots of reasons. (See: Do Toyota’s Shareholders Own the Company?) What shareholders really own is the right to part of a company’s profits (if any) after all of its other expenses are paid. At any rate, the fact remains that shareholders are crucially important, and they are in many ways vulnerable. The legal rights of shareholders are relatively few, and relatively weak. That’s what makes corporate governance so important. Shareholders elect the Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors is responsible for hiring the CEO and helping set the overall strategic directo of the firm. For most shareholders, there are precious few ways to interact with, let alone influence, the Board of Directors. The Annual Shareholder Meeting is critical, in that regard.

That’s what makes it so striking when any company degrades its Annual Shareholder Meeting in the way Symantic did this year by switching to an all-virtual, audio-only meeting. See this opinion piece, by Gretchen Morgenson, for the NYT: Questions, and Directors, Lost in the Ether. Check out this juicy bit:

…because the Webcast provided no video, shareholders may not have realized that several directors had not bothered to attend the meeting, even virtually. When asked about directors’ attendance, [Symantec spokeswoman] Ms. Haldeman said 8 of the 11 showed up.

Attending annual meetings seems a pretty basic requirement of a director, don’t you think? Sure, such gatherings may seem a corporate equivalent of root-canal therapy, but a duty is a duty. Directors are paid for their service, after all, sometimes very handsomely. According to Symantec’s most recent proxy materials, directors get around $250,000 a year in cash and stock.

So which directors had neither the time nor the inclination to log on to their computers last Monday to hear from the shareholders they have an obligation to represent? Ms. Haldeman refused to identify those who were AWOL.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that the 3 directors who didn’t “show up” could well have had very good reasons. But if that’s true, Symantic’s shareholders deserve to know it. The little power shareholders have can only be exercised effectively if boards of directors take their duty of accountability seriously.

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