With companies facing continuous reputational risks in today’s hyper-connected world, having marketing and communications experience on the board should be a no brainer. But while modern boards are hugely inclusive in terms of gender and ethnicity, we often do not see such variety in the skillsets.
There is no doubting that risk management and financial nous are essential at board level. However, in an age where crisis communications, engaging in dialogue with key stakeholders and reputation management are all business-critical issues, a marketing and communications presence is equally important.
Generation Y employees need to be engaged with and motivated differently, investors have less tolerance, NGO’s are better organised, customers want more for less; the challenges are huge.
Yet only 25 per cent of FTSE 500 companies have their Chief Communications Officer sitting on their company board or executive committee against 33 per cent of leading companies in North America.
Ideally – in larger organisations – these skillsets should be represented on the board by the in-house CMO or CCO. But if that is not possible then finding appropriate non-executives with those skills is an effective way to fill the gap.
Until organisations recognise the need to make marketing and communications a permanent fixture in the boardroom, organisations will struggle to cope with the communications challenges associated with today’s fast-paced, social media world.