Board meeting attendance is the act of being present for board meetings. In practical terms, this means showing up on time, being prepared, avoiding distractions and staying until the end.
Whether the directors attend in person or remotely, a board meeting presence is vital for maintaining board efficiency and reputation.
Importance of accountability for board members
The board of directors is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the organisation’s strategy and ensuring its welfare. As such, board members are expected to fulfil key requirements, such as staying engaged, informed and present to make important decisions. Financial and annual reports, governance committees and periodic board evaluations are pivotal factors in holding the board accountable for all governance activities.
Possible reasons for low attendance
Likely reasons for low meeting attendance include:
- Time commitments
A board member can occasionally miss meetings because of other time commitments, especially if they serve on multiple boards.
- Family issues
Unprecedented family issues and conflicts can derail a director’s focus and cause them to miss meetings.
- Ill health
A board member is unlikely to show up if they are dealing with serious health issues.
- Lack of interest or engagement with board matters
A director’s lack of engagement with their colleagues or interest in company activities can lead to chronic absenteeism.
Consequences of poor attendance
Maintaining board attendance is the key to good governance. If there are no clear policies to handle poor board meeting attendance, it can lead to:
- Lack of input on important decisions
Important company decisions require each board member’s expertise and input to deliver a favourable outcome. Lack of input can lead to impaired decision-making that could derail the long-term strategy of an organisation.
- Less diversity of thought in the boardroom
The success of a board lies in its ability to produce original, diverse and strategic ideas to further the company’s mission. Poor board attendance equates to less diversity of opinion and the inability to capitalise on each member’s unique expertise and experience.
- Damaged board reputation
The board has to lead by example and stay true to the standards it sets for the company. Poor attendance can diminish its reputation in the eyes of the employees and create enmity.
- Failure to reach a quorum
Poor attendance can prevent a quorum being reached, which means the meeting lacks any power to make binding decisions.
What can happen to board members with poor attendance?
Each organisation’s byelaws have different rules for dealing with absent board members. If a director is habitually absent, they might be put under membership review by the Executive Committee. If the committee deems that the director has failed to fulfil their role, they can be removed from the board.
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