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Board training: Preparing directors to effectively exercise program oversight

Erica Salmon Byrne ( is the Executive Vice President of The Ethisphere Institute.

Boards of directors have a clear responsibility to oversee the effectiveness of their company’s compliance and ethics program. But in order for that oversight to be meaningful, directors need to be educated about the company itself and the risks it faces.

Of course, creating good directors starts with onboarding, an area that companies have been even more focused on since last year’s events, which forced companies to think creatively about their processes. One piece of that is the virtual orientation process. Our 2021 class of World’s Most Ethical Companies Honorees reported that new directors meet with a variety of internal functions as they are introduced to the company, such as compliance and ethics (87% of honorees), legal (97% of honorees), finance (91% of honorees), and information security (70% of honorees). In particular, the high proportion of honorees that facilitate meetings between new directors and the compliance and ethics function is notable, as it demonstrates a desire to integrate new directors into the company’s compliance program and ethical culture.

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