A few years ago, the image evoked by the boards of directors bordered on the cliché: a dozen men in suits and ties, graduated from large schools, around a meeting table. Sometimes rightly, sometimes not. Depending on the culture, the country, the boards are more or less mixed, more or less equal and the openness to the international and digitalization push the groups to form more diversified teams. Even if it means surprising or, in any case, surprising those who have escaped progress in this direction.
The most notable nominations are those of celebrities. In June, Yahoo followed this path by appointing Jessica Alba to its board of directors. If the American is above all known for her acting and modeling activity, she is also co-founder of the e-commerce start-up specializing in cosmetics, Honest Company. This gives her a dual influence and tech hat, which seduced the board of Yahoo, where she is joined by the CEO of the LionTree bank, Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder of the investment company K5 Global Michael Kives or even a former from Twitter, Katie Stanton.
The goal of the group acquired in 2021 by the Apollo private equity fund? Develop to find a place in the game of tech against Google and other Facebook. “As we enter a new era, building a powerful Board of Directors with strategic insights from diverse business areas will drive our growth, innovation and scale.explains Jim Lanzone, boss of Yahoo. The intersection between media, technology, products and content is more relevant than ever.“
In France, the Kering example
Another appointment to have made the headlines of the celebrity press, this time in 2020: that of Emma Watson to the board of directors of Kering. A masterstroke for the French luxury group. Because, if the young woman first made a name for her roles in Harry Potter or Beauty and the Beast, she now embodies a certain idea of feminism. A graduate in literature from the American University of Brown, the Briton has notably been a goodwill ambassador for UN Women, an organization for which she was the spokesperson for the HeForShe campaign for gender equality, the aim of which is to encourage men to take part in this fight.
The personalities who sit on the boards are supposed to bring an additional string to the bow of the company, whether from a financial, digital or even CSR point of view.
“Emma Watson also participated in the development of a charter of good practices against harassment and violence within the film and television industry“, argued during its appointment the group led by François-Henri Pinault. In 2015, the Time honored her by ranking her among the 100 most influential people in the world. At a time when companies are required to be more virtuous, an appointment of this order gives weight to Kering’s commitments. Especially since the personalities who sit on the boards are supposed to bring an additional string to the bow of the company, whether from a financial, digital or even CSR point of view.
people of influence
Not to mention the influencer side that has also been attributed to public figures for a few years. An impact that Weight Watchers tasted. The famous nutrition brand brought star presenter Oprah Winfrey onto its board in 2015. At the same time, the businesswoman became the group’s third largest shareholder by taking nearly 10% of its capital. One of its most direct impacts? The day, in 2017, when she announced that she had lost 18 kilos thanks to the brand’s program. The action of Weight Watchers jumped more than 20% in the day. But the billionaire is not content with actions for the general public, she is also working on certain strategic areas of the group.
Athletes are also potential administrators. In 2006, the rumor circulated that Zinédine Zidane, a former football player who was an ambassador for Danone, could join the board of the food group. His ex-boss, Franck Riboud, had indicated that this option was a “reality“even if this one did not materialize. Whereas in other companies, in particular American, the practice is common.
Thus Serena Williams held a non-executive role from 2019 to 2022 within the Californian marketplace specializing in second-hand Poshmark. “What piqued my interest (for the nomination of Serena Williams), is that there are very few people who have this objective of excellence, explained the founder and CEO of the company at the time of the appointment. We try to build a very diverse and independent board of directors. With people able to guide us to the next stage of our growth.“And for that, the diversity of profiles seems to be more and more a guarantee of efficiency.