Selecting a new CEO is one of the board’s most important responsibilities and represents a critical moment in a company’s history. A smooth transition is necessary to maintain the confidence of stakeholders. This is why a well defined succession plan is needed.
The annual study, by Booz & Company, on CEO turnover among the largest 2 500 public companies revealed that in 2012, 15% of CEOs left office. This is the second-highest rate of CEO turnover since 2000. With this rate rising, companies are becoming more proactive about the CEO succession process. The amount of planned successions reached 72% in 2012, the highest in the 13 years history of the study and forced turnovers represented 19%, their second-lowest share ever. This indicates that companies take a more thoughtful approach to transitions and to ensure they put in place new leaders who will best serve the company for years to come. These new CEOs are for the most part familiar faces. Indeed, 71% were people already working in the company when they became CEO. This represents a significant decrease from previous years with an average share of insiders of 80%.
Interestingly, in planned successions, the share of insiders has dropped from an average of 82% between 2009 and 2011 to 70% in 2012. With careful and thoughtful plans, it seems that companies feel stable enough to take a bit of a risk on an unknown leader. Moreover, these risks were reduced since 56% of the outsiders came from the same industry as their new company.
Also, 81% of the new CEOs were from the same country as the company’s headquarters and 95% were men. The proportion of women reaching a CEO position has risen from an average of 3 % over the last 3 years to 5% in 2012, but still remains a tiny share.
Regarding the apprenticeship model, (the outgoing CEO remains or becomes chairman of the board and can “apprentice” the incoming CEO), this happened in 29% of turnovers in 2012. In this case, the share of an insider named CEO reached 92%. Companies in Brazil, Russia, and India had the highest increase in turnover rates between 2007 and 2012 (15.4% to 23.9%) and the highest increase in share of planned turnovers (8.8% to 15.5%). The telecom and utilities industries had the highest turnover rates in 2012 (both at 24%), closely followed by energy (21%). The lowest turnover rate was in the consumer discretionary industry with 9%.
Everyday Governance: “in-camera sessions”
When a board decides to discuss private matters like management, employee negotiations, law enforcement matters, reviewing the functioning of the Board… They have an “in-camera session”, this refers to a closed meeting of the board where only board members and possibly specifically chosen others may attend. All non board members and management such as the CEO, are “recused”, this means removed from participation in a decision on a matter because of a conflict of interest or a position.
This allows the board to discuss freely about some topics which could be difficult if the people concerned were present, especially when it concerns their performance. This provides an opportunity for the board to share their views, discuss results and develop recommendations for the future of the company. Except for the absence of some individuals, the session unfolds like an open session. There is an agenda and the same decision making process.
Note that in-camera sessions should be held regularly, for instance 15 minutes at the end of each board meeting; otherwise it may put a lot of stress on the management since they will suspect that a special request for a private session is to talk about them.