Directors Divided On Their Boards’ Ability To Oversee Disruptive Innovations

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Survey by Corporate Board Member and Ernst & Young LLP shows that half of corporate directors report being unconvinced their boards have the appropriate resources to move their companies forward in this era of fast-paced technological change.

STAMFORD, CT [June 10, 2019] – A new study by Corporate Board Member, a division of Chief Executive Group and a market leader in board education, along with Ernst & Young LLP, a leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, shows that 48 percent of corporate directors report being unconvinced that their boards have the appropriate resources to move their companies forward in this era of technological disruption.

The survey reveals that boards are more confident in their management team’s acumen in these matters, with 46 percent of directors saying they feel “very attuned” to the potential disruption on their organization and industry, compared to 69 percent who responded the same about management.

“Directors should look outside of their company to stay abreast of the latest developments because independent external data can help the board gain valuable insight into strategic pivots occurring within their company’s industry and adjacent sectors,” says Steve Klemash, EY Americas Leader of the Center for Board Matters.

“It’s one of corporate directors’ duties to acquire sufficient knowledge of an issue to be able to challenge management’s assumptions and strategy,” says Melanie Nolen, research editor at Corporate Board Member. “They had to do it with cybersecurity years ago. They have to do it again with technological innovations. There’s no way around it.”

While 38 percent of surveyed directors believe the most important action boards can take to help their companies navigate the current environment is to incorporate the matter into the full board agenda, only 29 percent of boards discuss emerging technologies regularly. The remaining 71 percent say they either discuss it once a year (23 percent) or on an ad-hoc basis (48 percent).

“Directors should embrace a learning mindset, and boards should pursue educational opportunities, spend additional time with management and seek counsel from external experts or advisory panels as appropriate,” says Klemash. “This isn’t about making every director a technology expert. It is about increasing the board’s competency so that they can ask thought-provoking and constructive questions of management.”

The full report of the survey results is available for download at

Other key findings presented in the report include:

• 83 percent of directors say they would support potentially disruptive innovation projects that offer long-term value even if they create additional risks and may not deliver short-term returns.

• 58 percent selected implementation, talent and unintended risks as the biggest challenges to adopting emerging technologies.

• Of the innovation-related metrics boards monitor, the most common, at 54 percent of respondents, is revenue from products or services.

• Half (49 percent) believe their board invests sufficient time in discussing emerging technologies to properly assess risk.

• 67 percent of directors report that the oversight of emerging technologies resides within the full board.


About Corporate Board Member

Corporate Board Member, a division of Chief Executive Group, has been the market leader in board education for 20 years. The quarterly publication provides public company board members, CEOs, general counsel and corporate secretaries decision-making tools to address the wide range of corporate governance, risk oversight and shareholder engagement issues facing their boards. Corporate Board Member further extends its thought leadership through online resources, webinars, timely research, conferences and peer-driven roundtables. The company maintains the most comprehensive database of directors and officers of publicly traded companies listed with NYSE, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq. Learn more at

About Chief Executive Group

Chief Executive Group, the leading community for business leaders worldwide, publishes Chief Executive magazine (since 1977),, Corporate Board Member magazine and, as well as conferences and roundtables that enable CEOs to discuss key subjects and share their experiences with their peers. The Group also runs the Chief Executive Network, the leading CEO membership organization arranged by industry, and facilitates the annual “CEO of the Year,” a prestigious honor bestowed upon an outstanding corporate leader, nominated and selected by a group of peers. Visit and for more information.

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via For more information about our organization, please visit

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member firm of EY serving clients in the US.

About the EY Center for Board Matters

Effective corporate governance is an important element in building a better working world. The EY Center for Board Matters supports boards, committees and directors in their oversight role by providing content, insights and education to help them address complex boardroom issues. Using our professional competencies, relationships and proprietary corporate governance database, we are able to identify trends and emerging governance issues. This allows us to deliver timely and balanced insights, data-rich content, and practical tools and analysis for directors, institutional investors and other governance stakeholders. For more information, visit

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