Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CHRISTUS Health on the Leading Edge

Two articles published in the November/December 2007 journal The Corporate Board reaffirms once more than CHRISTUS Health is on the leading edge of benchmark governance practices.

In the first article, titled “Non-Financial Metrics and Boards,” the author indicates that corporate boards are increasingly recognizing the value of both financial and non-financial performance metrics. At this time, more board members are more sophisticated in their use of financial information, and are often not provided consistent, high-quality non-financial information. The article concludes by stating that this non-financial information is often that which provides the greatest insight into what ultimately affects the long-term sustainability and growth of their business.

With regard to this article, CHRISTUS Health, since its inception nine years ago, has supported the development and implementation of a Balanced Scorecard, which has clearly defined metrics with goals updated annually. These metrics, driven by our mission and our four Directions of Excellence, advocacy and philanthropy, are reviewed at all board meetings at both the system and regional business units. By using metrics driven by national benchmark and industry-wide comparisons, governance has a clear sense of where CHRISTUS Health ranks in relationship to the “competitors.” And the article agrees with our published data in that “sooner or later your non-financial performance and action plans to improve have to translate into tangible, financial returns.

The second article, “Developing a Global Board Room,” begins with the statement, ”…as the U.S. economy becomes even more deeply part of the greater world economy, American boards have lagged behind in building global expertise.” It continued by stating that “…all companies operating in international markets could benefit from having at least one international executive director with relevant skills and experience on the board.”

With this knowledge in mind, particularly stimulated by the Future Task Force II recommendations, a Mexican national, Pedro Martin, was added to the CHRISTUS Health system board in 2005. And since its inception, the CHRISTUS Muguerza regional board has had American representation. Being “ahead of the curve,” we believed that international board representation would fulfill the following goals:

• By bringing a richer set of experiences, a foreign director increases the diversity of thought on the board, and should provide for a more robust discussion;
• A foreign director should know his or her home markets, and likely others, in much more detail and have a clear understanding of the facts;
• The director should provide access to new and different resources and networks, particularly political;
• He or she can inform the board on best practices in corporate governance in other geographies.

We clearly have found these reasons to justify international representation, which has also enhanced CHRISTUS Health’s cultural competency.

No comments: