Boards at Piazza Affari are not very international or “digital”

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The Il Sole 24 ORE article, “Boards at Piazza Affari are not very international or 'digital,' ” featured findings the firm's research and quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Beatrice Ballini. The article is excerpted below. 

IlSole 24 ORE

The boards of the major Italian listed companies are characterized by a strong number of independent members, few international members, a lack of digital expertise, a strong presence of women, and low compensation for independent members when compared with other countries, particularly the United States. This is the picture that emerges from the report drafted by Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA), “Governance of Ftse Mib Companies.” There is no point in hiding the fact that the percentage of board members with digital skills is rather low, around 8% of all members: “We call directors 'digital' when they sit on or were members in the past of at least one other board that is considered digital (YNAP), when they have a digital role in a non-digital company, or when they have a managerial role in a digital company. The parameters were a little broader compared to those applied by our colleagues in other countries. If we apply the rules of other countries, the percentage drops from 8% to 4%. Technically, no more than 6 out of 7 Italians who are qualified to sit on a board of directors have real digital experience in the business world. To this, we add individuals who developed these skills in the financial world,” notes Beatrice Ballini, manager of Family Business Practice Europe and member of the Practice Board Europa. 

Another feature missing from Italian boards is internationality: only 15% of board members are not Italian, and only 4% are not European. “With regard to openness to foreigners,” Ballini explains, “it is a matter of understanding the benefits that foreign professionals can bring, but people are still afraid to change the customs of boards, and they are worried that foreigners will not be able to understand the Italian environment and interact with the structure or are concerned about technical difficulties involving document translation.” 

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