LAST NOVEMBER the Wall Street Journal reported that new CEO Robert Benmosche was threatening to quit, and that the AIG board was scrambling to salvage the situation. A fairly momentous development, considering the still precarious state not only of AIG but of the broader financial community and markets. Asked what was happening at the board level, this is what ended up in the article: "A spokesman for the giant insurer said the company doesn't comment on board activities."
Then, next question: Who does speak for the board?
The reality is, in many if not most circumstances, no one seems to. Boards simply have no voice of their own.
That has been the longstanding tradition--that the corporation speaks with one voice, that of management's.
Is this still a good thing? Is this responsible behavior for boards in today's environment of fuller transparency and disclosure--to have no voice of their own? And, if they were to find their voice, whose voice should it be? And how should it be expressed...