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Can GCs on a corporate board impact performance?

Over the last 20 years corporate boards have undergone substantial change and researchers has investigated many different aspects. One area that has, up until now, been overlooked is the impact of the General Counsel sitting on corporate boards.

Filling the research gap

Dr Paola is working on is a statistical examination of the measurable impact of GCs on boards. This research study is co-authored by Yann Cabon ,a statistician and researcher with a specialty in big data and mathematical modelling,  and will publish toward the end of the year.  Dr Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio is chair of the Executive Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession. She is also a senior research fellow at HLS and at Harvard Kennedy School.

Introduction to the findings

Examining data from 2006 to 2014 the results indicate that companies with a board that includes the GC were more likely to have a higher revenue performance as compared with the companies who did not have a GC on the board. This was true even during a time of crisis such as the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008.

Corporate boards with GC vs. without GC

What skills to GCs bring with them to the board?

Due to their training GCs have very valuable skills and expertise. In particular:

  • an enhanced ability to see both sides of the story and to build consensus
  • a sophisticated understanding of their organisation’s global outlook

These skills bring an effective problem solving ability to the boardroom table alongside unique insight when developing strategy.

Find out more

Dr Paola elaborates a little more on the initial findings, plus discusses some of the emergent hypotheses that will be explored further such as the impact having GCs on boards has on diversity, and the economic value contributed by the GC. Click here to read Dr Paola’s full article.

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