Becoming better versed in issues surrounding cybersecurity and social media risk would greatly benefit general counsel at publicly traded companies, according to a recent survey of executive leadership.
In May 2015, a survey of 5,000 directors, board chairs and CEOs of publicly traded companies—sponsored by executive search firm BakerGilmore, and NYSE Governance Services—was released. The survey was conducted in February and March of 2015.
Among the questions asked was the areas in which executives felt their general counsel would most benefit from gaining additional expertise so to add value to their company. The overwhelming favorite: Cybersecurity risk—chosen by 67 percent of the executives surveyed. The next closest answer was social media risk (39 percent), followed by crisis management (30 percent).
In fact, only 5 percent of respondents assessed their general counsel’s grasp of the issues surrounding cybersecurity as “excellent”; 44 percent characterized it as “good”; and 47 percent as only “fair.” Likewise, only 7 percent rated their general counsel’s working knowledge of social media risk as “excellent.”
“Not surprisingly, as the corporate world continues to grapple with fallout in the modern cyber era, directors believe general counsel would most benefit from additional education in cybersecurity and social media, areas in which many directors are admittedly lacking in expertise,” wrote the survey’s authors.
But there was also positive news for in-house lawyers: General counsel are “much more likely” to be considered key members of the management team nowadays, as compared to a decade ago. “Overall, general counsel are being lauded for their strategic contributions as well as pragmatic ones, making them increasingly valued members of the executive team,” the survey concluded.
A copy of the survey, entitled “GCs” Adding Value to the C-Suite,” is available here.