Best Practices

I have long felt that many private companies’ attitudes, outlook and values are at the forefront of a national discussion on the purpose of a company. As CEOs on the Business Roundtable, politicians and academics begin to re-examine the character and purpose of public companies, the characteristics they are now holding up to emulate are those that many private companies have exhibited for decades.


CEO Kathleen Mazzarella discusses the company and board’s focus  on long-term decision making and environmental, social and governance issues.

To Kathy Mazzarella, chair, president, and CEO of Graybar Electric Company, environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) aren’t something new.

“While ESG has become a popular area of focus in recent years, those principles have always been a way of life at Graybar,” she explains.


Companies looking to go public, or innovate should consider bringing women into the boardroom

By Maureen Milford

Private company directors might be feeling a tad lucky they’re exempt from California’s new board diversity requirements now that the state has issued its first report on corporate compliance to the law that requires women on public company boards.

But don’t get too comfy.

Fallout at Equinox and SoulCycle provides a lesson for boards. 

In today’s hyper-politicized world, even private company directors can be caught unaware in a media deluge that impacts the companies they serve. The recent experience of a board chairman at a global real estate and lifestyle company shows how it can happen.


By Maureen Milford

Randall W. Larrimore, a highly qualified corporate director and former CEO of a $4 billion company, agreed to join the board of Nixon Medical because he felt an obligation to “give back” to a small company in his home state of Delaware.

SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson says good governance can bolster innovation, human capital and societal success.

Private company boards are in the best position to propel environmental, social and governance issues which in turn can boost the bottom line and societal good, says Securities & Exchange Commission commissioner Robert Jackson.


By April Hall

The Westphal family is deeply involved in the governance of their tax software company but stays out of management.

On a snow day in 2012, when kids had the day off from school and people were encouraged to stay off the roads, Jeff Westphal, second-generation CEO of Vertex Inc., called his sisters and asked for a meeting that day.

By April Hall

Installing professional governance in the family business helps take personal dynamics out of company decisions and strategic planning. Objective advice from independent board members can help prevent family disputes and ensure decisions are being made in the best interests of the business.

Governance structures evolve as companies evolve

By Barbara Spector

Southworth International Group Inc., a Falmouth, Maine-based manufacturer of ergonomic material handling equipment, has had a host of governance milestones over the years.

Start with a tailored skills matrix; and look for directors with keen intellect, low ego

By Barbara Spector

To build the best board for your business, don’t try to duplicate other companies’ governance structures.

If you want to find great directors, your first step should be to create a skills matrix. List the abilities and experience of your current board members and identify gaps you must fill to ensure the board can help your company achieve its strategic goals.