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2021 Board Effectiveness Survey

Results show that between March 2020 and March 2021, boards became more effective, more collaborative, and spent more time on vital strategic issues than prior to the pandemic – and that the shift to digital board meetings was a primary facilitator of these outcomes. Download the complete results now.

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Board Effectiveness Survey

Survey Respondents’ Relation to Their Boards

The survey spanned a variety of boards across numerous industries, including non-profits, higher education, financial services, healthcare/life sciences, professional associations, and others. 

This is the first year of the new, annual survey aimed at monitoring trends and priorities in board engagement and effectiveness. The goal is to identify the key challenges that board leaders face in the current environment, how they are addressing those challenges, and best practices for more effective governance moving forward.


progress Across The board

Despite its many challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped drive progress for boards across the country. Boards that previously had been reluctant or slow to embrace digital transformation suddenly were forced to shift to virtual formats. As a result of this and other factors, our survey of 282 board directors, administrators, and staff members in more than six countries found:
0 %
Have spent more time discussing strategic issues
0 %
Have seen improvements in board collaboration
0 %
Have achieved good governance under challenging conditions
0 %
Said their boards have improved effectiveness in the past 12 months

Does Your Board Use Board Management Software?


57% of boards we surveyed used board management software and noted 81% improved board effectiveness.


43% of boards we surveyed do not use board management software and noted 58% improved board effectiveness.

How Has Your Board’s Collaboration Changed Since the Shift to Remote?

Improved a lot
Improved some
Deteriorated a little
Deteriorated a lot
Describe the Effectiveness of your Board’s Governance in the Virtual Environment
Good governance has been achieved in a challenging environment
Continuity of governance has been maintained, but challenging
Governance has been difficult & challenging

“When you get everybody on the same platform, effectiveness increases. [Boards] should think twice before going back to this blended model that wasn’t working in the first place. Don’t let the fact that virtual meetings are good distract you from the fact that blended meetings are bad.”

– Matt Fullbrook


Manager of the David & Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

Greater Focus on Critical Issues

A majority of respondents to the OnBoard survey said their boards have significant room for improvement in areas such as diversity, and the level of focus on environmental, social, and governance issues.

0 %
Of organizations have not evaluated themselves on environmental, social, & governance issues
0 %
Are focused on environmental, social, & governance issues
0 %
Have no committees focused on environment, social, & governance issues
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A comprehensive guide on selecting a Board Management vendor that will make your board happy and keep meetings focused on strategy.

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