Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

The Role of the Corporate Board

A Three-Part Video Conversation on Corporate Governance

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 some manner or form.

In conversation 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.

The Role of the Corporate Board (Part 1) The Role of the Corporate Board (Part 2)

The Role of the Corporate Board (Part 3)

These three short videos, made in cooperation with the Silicon Valley Chapter of National Association of Corporate Directors (SVNACD), are part of a series on corporate governance. The Ethics Center and SVNACD have partnered on several ventures linking good corporate governance and an organization's ethical culture.

For other videos in the series, see:

Effective Boards—Robert Finocchio
Building an Ethical Business Culture: The Role of the Board—Michael Hackworth

March 2012