Board Oversight Across Borders: From FCPA to Geopolitical Affairs

Episode Summary

Increasingly, the world feels like a smaller place as global business strategies and technology bring countries closer together. Operating in foreign countries, however, is not without vast complexities, particularly at the board level. How can the board effectively oversee risk across foreign jurisdictions? How should a global company approach board composition and succession planning?

In this episode, Alex Wolff, board member with Albemarle Corp. and Versum Materials, tackles these questions and more related to international board oversight. Following a 33-year career with the U.S. State Department where he served as acting ambassador to the United Nations and various countries, Wolff brings a unique geopolitical perspective to this discussion of cross-border governance.

…Most companies, to be successful in today’s international business environment, need to operate internationally. [It’s] hard to think of many [companies] that don’t have either foreign suppliers or foreign clients or even foreign operations. So this is an increasing area of focus for most companies. Of course, you have to take into account [the] unique risk profiles of each country you intend to operate in. How welcome is U.S. business in that country? How does the local culture complicate or facilitate your business model? Is the country stable politically and economically?
— Alex Wolff, Board Member, Albemarle Corp. and Versum Materials

Wolff reviews the various complexities that boards must consider when operating in foreign jurisdictions. How can boards design a system to monitor and combat potential FCPA violations? From a liability perspective, what protections should the board construct?

In this episode, Wolff also outlines the complexities to consider when recruiting board candidates from other countries.

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