Skip to main content
May 10, 2017

Is There a Corporate Leadership Crisis? What Boards Can Do

New report from WomenCorporateDirectors and Pearl Meyer shows directors’ role in developing a strong leadership culture

Ninety percent of directors believe leadership strategy oversight is a board responsibility, but just 11 percent feel boards do this well

NEW YORK—May 10, 2017—In the wake of recent scandals in the automotive, financial services, and airline industries, a new report from WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation (WCD) and executive compensation consultancy Pearl Meyer provides insight on how boards can advance a company’s business strategy by cultivating the right leadership strategy, talent development, and corporate culture. The WCD Thought Leadership Commission report, The Visionary Board at Work: Developing a Culture of Leadership, was launched today at the WCD Global Institute in New York, where more than 200 directors are gathering for the annual global summit held by the largest community of women directors worldwide.

“Strong leadership and a healthy culture may be the ultimate defining qualities of a successful company today,” said Susan Stautberg, chairman and CEO of WCD. “This report, authored by Pearl Meyer, comes at a time when the culture of business is making daily headlines. We believe it will help our membership and the board community at large recognize and mitigate culture-based risk and create leadership models that can be differentiators for their organizations.”

The report is based on in-depth interviews and insights from more than two dozen global directors, as well as a survey of board members from both U.S. and multinational companies. It offers actionable plans for mentoring next-generation leaders, understanding and nurturing both tone at the top and culture at the core of an organization, encouraging an environment of innovation, and developing a leadership philosophy for the board itself. Many boards are having critical discussions about these issues, however, a recent WCD and Pearl Meyer survey revealed opportunities for improvement. While 77 percent of directors at multinational companies believe leadership strategy is equally important to the business strategy, only 53 percent of the boards surveyed have standing agenda items related to company talent and/or leadership development.  

“There is simply no substitute for a robust, positive culture of shared values and vision,” said David Swinford, president and CEO of Pearl Meyer. “The best business strategy cannot be successful without the right leadership, thoughtful talent development, and a culture that supports the organization’s goals. This report encourages boards and management teams to create synergy between their business and leadership strategies, which is critical to sustainable value creation.”

The 2017 WCD Thought Leadership Commission was convened to examine the critical issue of the board’s role in leadership strategy and culture. Members sit on multinational boards and have decades of experience in diverse industries in both the private and public sectors. The report gives their advice and actionable plans by offering key recommendations: 

  • Think beyond the C-suite when identifying future leaders for the mid- and long-term.
  • Nurture culture at the core to maintain focus on the common goals and create engagement.
  • Embrace the new normal where change is constant and an environment of innovation is required to thrive.
  • Lead by example and cultivate a board with a shared culture, a diverse composition in experience and ideas, and its own leadership philosophy.


About the WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation

The WomenCorporateDirectors Education and Development Foundation, Inc. (WCD) is the only global membership organization and community of women corporate directors. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, WCD has 76 chapters around the world. The aggregate market capitalization of public companies on whose boards WCD members serve is over $8 trillion. Eighty-five percent of WCD members serve on a public, private, or family business board. To learn about the benefits of WCD membership and how to join, visit


About Pearl Meyer

Pearl Meyer is the leading advisor to boards and senior management helping organizations build, develop, and reward great leadership teams that drive long-term success. Our strategy-driven compensation and leadership consulting services act as powerful catalysts for value creation and competitive advantage by addressing the critical links between people and outcomes. Our clients stand at the forefront of their industries and range from emerging high-growth, not-for-profit, and private organizations to the Fortune 500.

At Pearl Meyer, we work with boards and organizations to design and implement compensation and leadership strategies that build great management teams.
Find out how we can help you.
Get in touch with us