What’s missing at the boardroom table?

Thirty years ago you might have wondered about that quiet nerd wandering the corridors of your company late at night, usually the data processing manager. Fast forward to 2015, and now the same guy is sitting at the boardroom table with the title of Chief Information Officer.  In a similar vein, the determined and hard-working salaries clerk has also found a seat at the boardroom table with the title of Human Resources Director. So how is it that despite communication being one of the most important aspects of a business, the public relations manager still is nowhere near the boardroom table.

If a company’s reputation has significant monetary value, which is taken into account on the balance sheet, why is the Financial Director the person people care most about when he/she probably knows the least about how to manage the company’s reputation?

A Deloitte Survey conducted in the 1990’s showed that numerous mergers and acquisitions failed because of a lack of communication during the process. Yet, the communications strategy often falls under the umbrella of the marketing department, and not directly under the office of the CEO.

In my experience there is no aspect of your job or home life which cannot be enriched if you improve the way you communicate, be it by the spoken or written word.  I see proof of this every day ...

of my working life with clients, particularly during media training and crisis management.

Although I have worked towards the goal of placing a communications expert on the board, to date I have not been successful. Perhaps I would have had more joy in my previous career, when over twenty years ago I was head of research for an international firm of headhunters.

But it was only when I realised that my passion was helping people to communicate that I appreciated the real value a communications expert could bring to the boardroom table.

Many of the company crises I’ve worked on in the past few years could have been avoided if the correct communication strategy was in place. A communications plan is a central part of a company’s risk management strategy, but frequently the experts are only called in after the event.

I am quietly confident that the first CEO to recognise the power of public relations and the value of a company’s reputation will reap the benefits. And part of this realisation would be to make an extra space at the boardroom table for a communications specialist.