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The Role of Corporate Boards

Thursday, Apr. 26, 2012

Like humans, companies need both a heart and a soul, says Richard Levy, chairman of Varian Medical Systems. The heart keeps the human and the company alive and functioning, but that, in itself, isn't enough. The soul, which gives meaning to human life, focuses the attention of a company—its management and its board-- beyond simply making money to doing something to promote the common good.

In three video conversations with James Balassone, executive-in-residence at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Levy details the duties and responsibilities of corporate boards: first and foremost, to look after the interests of shareholders, oversee financial performance and compliance, weigh in on strategy when necessary, understand risks, and evaluate, compensate and hire and fire the CEO and other senior managers. He also discusses how to promote healthy relationships between boards and senior management and clearly defines what should take place in an effective board meeting.

Tags: business ethics, corporate governance