Big Names vs. Real Governance, Board Accountability, and Latino Board Diversity

  • By: Rob Kunzler
  • September 21, 2021
OnBoard governance
Reading Time: 4 minutes

I often have people tell me, “You look like that guy, you know, from Ted Lasso!” 

I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know I love the show. It seems I am not the only one, as Ted Lasso had a moment this week, winning seven Emmys for Apple’s streaming service. More than the hardware, I appreciate the many messages Ted Lasso and the team send to organizations of any type.  Entrepreneur Magazine beat me to it (over a year ago!) by compiling “Lessons from Ted Lasso on Leadership.” 

These certainly apply as well today as they did last year and are valuable context as we discuss this week’s articles that caught our eye.

Rob Kunzler
CMO, OnBoard

Warren Buffet Says What Everyone is Thinking

The Theranos saga reminds us that sometimes life is stranger than art. This artistic display continues to reveal itself in real time as the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has commenced. Recently, Warren Buffet himself weighed in, if only to use Theranos as a cautionary tale of board composition gone awry.  

Theron Mohamed wrote a piece for Markets Insider that featured comments by the Oracle of Omaha referencing the Theranos board. “They got some very big names on their board,” Buffett said, but alluded to the fact that big names are not enough. Boards should be composed of people who are “business-savvy, shareholder-oriented, and have a strong personal interest in Berkshire.”  

Architecting an effective board is complicated but can be made easier with a thoughtful understanding of the outcomes and goals the board is charged with achieving. It seems clear that the construction of the Theranos board was focused on finding cosmetically pleasing members but failed to find those who would effectively govern, even in difficult situations.  

Certainly, this year continues to operate like no other in recent memory. That means doubling down on the foundational characteristics of the most effective boards — diversity of experience and perspective and unwavering commitment to stakeholder value. We encourage our board customers to use this time of year to uncover new insights into their board effectiveness using tools like board assessments and roles & terms management.  


Boeing Board Faces Lawsuit, Stark Reminder of the High Stakes Boards Face

A recent article in Fortune reported on a investors’ lawsuit that was approved to proceed by a Delaware judge. The lawsuit stems from the two 737 Max crashes that killed more than 300 people. 


The investors’ lawsuit claims “directors missed a ‘red flag’ about the 737 Max’s safety issues in the first crash in October 2018. Further, the judge noted, “the board failed to ‘make any good faith effort to implement and oversee a board-level system to monitor and report on safety’.”  

This is perhaps the most extreme example of the stakes boards face in administering oversight and governance. 

While we don’t have the details of what the board did or didn’t have access to (and what the lawsuit seeks to uncover), we can say there is an analog in this case for every board of every organization — boards have the most difficult of jobs; to simultaneously protect the welfare of the business and work in the interest of its complete set of stakeholders.  

It also reminds us of a Ted Lasso quote — “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.”

Latino Boardroom Representation Lags in California

Reuters published an article last week regarding a recent study done by the Latino Corporate Directors Association. In it, the study pointed to Latinos occupying just “2.5% of board seats in the state overall.” In comparison, Latinos and Hispanics make up 39.4% of California’s population and are its largest ethnic group. More recently, the study found that of the 1,443 new directors added to public company boards, only 3.5% of them were Latino or Hispanic, only a very modest improvement on the overall averages.  

Kathy Munoz, a vice-president at the Latino Corporate Directors Association, says “We’ve been overlooked. We’re not getting the visibility that other communities are getting.”

Indeed, the California data is likely to be representative of the broader U.S. If that’s true, clearly, there is much work to be done for Latino representation on boards, as is the case for many other minority groups.  

A separate article in Harvard Business Review notes that much of the challenge (or as Ted Lasso might say, “the opportunity”) lies in boards not focusing on the right strategies regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The article’s author, Simran Jeet Singh, noted three reasons why boards have fallen short of their diversity initiatives:

  1. Embedding DEI requires the board to identify meaningful reasons to seek diverse talent.
  2. Broadening professional circles requires tapping into different networks outside the reach of current board members.
  3. Going beyond tokenism and symbolism requires updating traditional thinking, adapting ways of being, and seeing value differently.

We will again call your attention to a recent webinar that unpacks how to move from “Optics to Meaningful” to pursue diverse board composition. It’s a great place to start.

About The Author

Rob Kunzler
Rob Kunzler
Rob Kunzler is OnBoard’s Chief Marketing Officer. With 20+ years of executive marketing leadership experience, Kunzler brings proven expertise in brand development, lead generation, partner and alliance marketing, direct marketing, product marketing, digital marketing, and public relations.