While Bonnie Hill has distinguished herself in many ways as a board member, it was her willingness to meet with shareholders that made her a leader.
“I have never had a shareholder group ask something that was inappropriate,” said Hill. “They are aware of Regulation FD. We may not always agree but I think it’s very important to listen and sometimes agree to disagree. We have learned so much from talking to shareholders. It’s made us better directors.
Her earliest meetings with shareholders came about because of shareholder issues or concerns. Now, the company talks with shareholders when they want input. For example, when the Home Depot board was working on director succession plans, they contacted long term large shareholders for candidates to consider.
“We found that amazingly helpful, said CalSTRS Anne Sheehan. “It demystifies the process, which enables us to better support the company’s long-term objectives.”
Such proactive work has accrued to the company’s benefit. “When you are in reactive mode, it is so much more time consuming, ” said Hill. With a more open dialogue, Hill says the board has more time to spend on strategy and other key issues. And it has added to a positive reputation for the board and the company.