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One of the greatest challenges facing boards today is the one directors feel least prepared for: cybersecurity. Yahoo’s disclosure in December of what could be the largest data breach in history was hardly an isolated incident. Indeed, the Guardian dubbed 2016 the “year of the hack,” and cyberthreats are increasingly common across all sectors. In previous work we found that cybersecurity ranked as a top political issue for corporate directors, trailing only the economy and the regulatory environment. Directors acknowledge cybersecurity as an urgent global issue, but are failing to make the connection between the pervasiveness of cyberthreats and their companies’ vulnerabilities. When we asked them to describe their levels of concern and readiness for various risks to their companies, cybersecurity took a backseat to worries about regulatory and reputational risks, which directors were more adequately prepared to deal with. Just 38% of directors reported having a high level of concern about cybersecurity risks, and an even smaller proportion said they were prepared for these risks. In the words of one director, “Cybersecurity is a big issue, but there is a broad spectrum of risk in this business, so it is a key factor among several.” When directors evaluated the factors that could limit their company’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives, cybersecurity issues were overshadowed by more salient concerns like attracting and retaining top talent, the regulatory environment, and global competitive threats. These findings confirm that directors simply aren’t internalizing the extensive, long-term damage an attack could inflict on their organizations. Why the disconnect between the global- and company-level views? Using a comprehensive survey, of more than 5,000 directors in over 60 countries, conducted in partnership with WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation, Spencer Stuart, and independent researcher Deborah Bell, we found two main reasons: Boards lack the processes and the expertise they need to surface, evaluate, and address cyberthreats. MethodologyThis survey was conducted through a partnership between Professor Boris Groysberg and Yo-Jud Cheng from Harvard Business School; WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation, led by Susan Stautberg; Spencer Stuart, led by Julie Hembrock Daum; and independent researcher Deborah Bell. Over 5,000 board members of companies headquartered in more than 60 countries responded to the survey between October 2015 and June 2016. Most responses (80%) were received between October and December 2015. Between January and June 2016, we worked with Harvard Business School’s Global Research Centers to increase the response rate outside of the United States. Additional responses from this second survey wave were predominantly concentrated in the Middle East, Asia, and Western Europe. The industry breakdowns were determined using eight major sectors (similar to those in the Global Industry Classification Standard system): Consumer Discretionary (e.g., apparel, automobiles, retailing, media, hotels, restaurants & leisure); Consumer Staples (e.g., food, beverage & tobacco, household and personal products); Energy & Utilities (e.g., oil, gas & consumable fuels, electric, gas and water utilities); Financial & Professional services (e.g., banking & financial services, insurance, real estate); Healthcare (e.g., pharmaceuticals, biotechnology & life sciences, health care equipment and services); Industrials (e.g., aerospace & defense, industrial conglomerates, textiles); IT & Telecommunications (e.g., internet software & services, semiconductors, wireless telecommunication services); and Materials (e.g., chemicals, metals & mining, paper & forest products). Inadequate processes. Most boards have robust processes for addressing their most pressing responsibilities, such as financial planning and compliance. But when we asked specifically about processes related to cybersecurity issues, such as regular discussions about cyber risks (with or without cybersecurity specialists) and management reviews of contingency plans for a data breach, directors gave their boards low marks. Only 24% rated those processes as “above average” or “excellent.” In fact, among the 23 processes we asked about, directors ranked the ones related to cybersecurity dead last. The strength of these processes also varied by industry: Boards in the IT and telecom sectors led the field, with 42% reporting strong measures; in the materials and industrials sectors fewer than one in five directors could say the same. In the health care industry, a common target for data breaches, and one that has proven to be particularly vulnerable, 79% of respondents said their organizations lack robust cybersecurity processes. Lack of expertise. When we asked directors about the board duties they struggle with, risk and security issues was the challenge they mentioned most. The main problem, they said, was that they simply don’t have the expertise. One director pointed to “a lack of understanding of the issue and an unwillingness to make room for those with new thinking and understanding of the issue.” Another said, “There is too much responsibility placed on boards to oversee areas they don’t have much experience in, i.e., cybersecurity.” A Real Strategic Threat Boards neglect cybersecurity issues at their peril. An IBM study estimated that the average cost of a data breach is around $4 million. Cisco, in a recent study, noted that targeted companies suffer substantial losses of revenue, customers, and business opportunities. Clearly, these attacks can’t be viewed an abstract external threat. Boards have to embrace the facts and adjust their thinking: Cybersecurity threats are universal, and board members have to take ownership of these risks. The topic should be discussed regularly in all board rooms, regardless of industry, region, or company size. Boards can take concrete steps to prioritize cybersecurity issues. One director suggested that directors start by “asking questions and determining whether appropriate processes are in place.” Boards can hold executive management accountable for evaluating current cybersecurity risks and maintaining response plans by making cybersecurity debriefings a regular agenda item at board meetings. They can advocate for investments in data security and infrastructure within their organizations, and encourage executive management to bring in external experts if needed (boards can bring in their own experts, too, either as consultants or as full board members). These types of investments should be viewed as vital to the organization’s risk management functions and long-term strategy, and need to be reviewed on a continual basis. As one director told us, “In light of the threats, this issue should be examined in a way that is broader than a risk considered by the audit committee.” The scope of cybersecurity threats will only continue to grow. By being more proactive about cybersecurity issues, directors can play an essential role in safeguarding their organization’s stability and supporting future growth.
Hormel Foods Corporation (HRL), Pinnacle Foods Inc. (PF) , B&G Foods, Inc. (BGS) and Sanderson Farms, Inc. (SAFM) are slated to report earnings on Feb 23, 2017.
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WASHINGTON ― School administrators in a 93 percent white Maryland county recently asked high school teachers to take down pro-diversity posters from classrooms because they perceived them as “political” and “anti-Trump,” a school spokesperson told The Huffington Post. Teachers at Westminster High School had put up the posters, which depicted Latina, Muslim and black women and were designed by Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the “Hope” posters featuring President Barack Obama in 2008. The women are rendered in patriotic colors, with messages like “We the people are greater than fear.” The teachers put up the posters as a “show of diversity,” said Carey Gaddis, a spokeswoman for Carroll County Public Schools. At least one staff member complained about the posters, and the teachers were “asked to take them down because they were being perceived as anti-Trump by the administration,” Gaddis said. After taking the posters down, the teachers were initially allowed to put them up again. But the administration did some further investigation online and determined that the posters could be seen as political. The school does not allow teachers to put up political posters in their classrooms “unless it’s part of a curriculum and they represent both sides,” Gaddis said. (The story was first reported by the Carroll County Times.) President Donald Trump took office vowing to crack down on immigration and ban Muslims from traveling to the United States, promises that he has already tried to fulfill. His administration is also stacked with anti-immigration hard-liners, and his campaign won early support from prominent white nationalists, whom Trump has unconvincingly sought to disavow. The art recognizes groups that may feel marginalized under the Trump administration. But it is “definitely NOT anti-Trump in nature,” said Aaron Huey, a photojournalist whose organization collaborated with Fairey on the posters. The campaign was intentionally designed not to refer to any president or political party, according to Huey. “Anyone who believes that these messages are dangerous or divisive needs to check themselves,” he said. Carroll County’s school system has struggled to attract more diverse staff, according to a report filed with the school board last year, and only about 4 percent of its employees identify as minorities. Jim Doolan, who was board president at the time, told the Carroll County Times in 2016 that when he first came to the school system to teach more than 30 years ago, he would find Ku Klux Klan invitations on his car windshield. Carroll County also has a reputation as a place where people of color don’t want to be after work hours, Superintendent Stephen Guthrie told the Times. Staff members said they were trying to change that perception. Westminster High School’s mission includes preaching “tolerance [and] acceptance of diversity,” said Steven Johnson, the county’s assistant superintendent for instruction. The principal is looking into alternative images that people can display, Johnson said. But he likened the issue to the controversy over the Confederate battle flag. “The Confederate flag in and of itself has no image of slavery or hatred or oppression, but it’s symbolic of that,” Johnson told HuffPost. “These posters have absolutely no mention of Trump or any other political issue ― it’s the symbolism of what they were representing. They were carried in these protests.” Hamial Waince, a 17-year-old student at Westminster High and president of a women’s math and science club, said she has faced discrimination around town as a Pakistani-American Muslim. But she considers her high school a safe place where people are willing to stand up for her. “Since the posters were taken down, what does that tell the students?” Waince asked. “That it’s perfectly fine to remove something which supports a moral value that each human being should have?” Sarah Wack, a 2012 graduate of Westminster High, has started an online fundraiser to print free T-shirts displaying the images for students to wear. Once the shirt order is finalized, Wack says, the balance will be donated to the Amplifier Foundation, the nonprofit that put out the posters. The students plan to wear the shirts on March 1. (Gaddis said they will be permitted to do so.) As of Tuesday, Wack’s fundraiser had raised over $5,000. “I’m wearing the shirt to school to stand by those affected by the posters being taken down,” said Delaney McKelvie, a high school senior. “I also hope to get the message across that promoting diversity should be commonplace.” The school board has scheduled a meeting about the posters, Gaddis said. Madi Macera, a junior, said she knows two students ― one black and one of Muslim faith, both of them girls ― who were “upset and disturbed at the sight of teachers having to remove posters containing images of women similar to them from their walls.” “I want people to understand that these are American people,” said Macera, who is helping to organize the demonstration at the school. “They are a staple of who America is as a whole.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Every week, we bring you the best and most succinct curation of must-read articles to help you grow your investment advisory practice. More than a dozen hours of weekly reading by industry veteran Kristan Wojnar boils down to these three non-negotiables for your reading list. Want to grow your practice? Bookmark our Practice Management center and make these pieces a weekly staple.
The controversy, like many these days, was ephemeral, but the damage will linger. In less than a day, the organizers of the annual conservative confab CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) booked professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to headline the gathering before rescinding the invitation after video emerged of him seemingly condoning pedophilia. It was a momentary embarrassment for the organization. But for the gay rights activists within the Republican Party, it revived the anger and befuddlement that seems to come each year at CPAC, leaving little sense of relief at the outcome. Yiannopoulos would have been the most high-profile openly gay speaker in CPAC’s history. But he is anything but the ideal standard-bearer for these activists. He has a history of bigotry toward other minority groups, including Muslims, Jews and even gays, whom he has insisted should bottle up their pride rather than have it accepted or celebrated. That he was embraced by organizers of the yearly event was yet another indication that gay conservatives are still viewed as a sideshow and not a constituency whose issues remain very raw and serious. “It is an unfortunate realization of a goal for so many,” James Richardson, an openly gay, longtime GOP operative, said before the invitation was rescinded. “For years the LGBT community was blacklisted from CPAC, and now we have an unlikely champion of the movement set to speak. Unlikely, because he is absolutely not a champion. Not at all.” It is an annual tradition for conservative LGBT groups and CPAC organizers to wage private and not-so-private battles about the composition of the conference. Usually these are fought over the smallest of terrain. Gay groups have struggled to be granted the opportunity for mere sponsorship or the chance to host a booth among the dozen organizations in the halls. A modicum of progress has come recently but in curious, minor forms. For instance, the head of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights organization within the party, was allowed to appear at CPAC in 2015, but only on a panel on Russia policy. In 2013, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida turned heads when he labeled marriage a states’ rights issue, yet he was only implying that he didn’t favor a constitutional amendment to forbid it. And last year, a debate was held on the place of gay marriage in the libertarian and traditionalist wings of the party, where a consensus didn’t form on same-sex marriage but instead on religious freedoms. In these recent years, attendance by gay rights activists has dipped as CPAC has been viewed more as a venue for poli-entertainment than a place where an earnest debate about the state and future of conservatism can be had. That Yiannopoulos was invited to speak this year was, for the activists, an illustration of the charade. “There are a lot of us who took a lot of hits over the years to help the conservative movement to evolve on some cultural issues, and this is less than a victory given the nature of Milo’s act and schtick,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, a gay activist who has left the Republican Party. Officials at CPAC, including its chairman, Matt Schlapp, did not comment for this article. But, behind the scenes, officials acknowledged that the Yiannopoulos invitation was poorly thought out. One organizer conceded that gay groups had a right to feel hurt that CPAC was bestowing such a symbolic breakthrough on someone philosophically removed from gay activists in the GOP and with so few accomplishments in their movement. CPAC chair Schlapp tells me there was "universal belief" among organizers re Milo "the right thing to do was to rescind the invitation"— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurnsRCP) February 20, 2017 Robert Traynham, a longtime gay GOP operative, suggested that a figure like Rich Tafel, the founder of the Log Cabin Republicans, would have been far better suited for the role. “It seems to me that he would have been much more appropriate compared to Milo, who is a flash in the pan,” Traynham said. “Yes, he does have a following. Yes, he is provocative and you can make the argument that some organizers of CPAC thought that might be a good thing. With the benefit of hindsight, it proved to not be.” As Traynham hinted, Yiannopoulos does, in some regards, reflect the odd moment that the conservative world finds itself in with respect to gay rights. He is, after all, a product of Breitbart News. And long before there was that modicum of progress at CPAC with respect to gay rights issues, it was Andrew Breitbart, the website’s founder, who was demanding it. A staple at CPACs, Breitbart, who died in 2012, often held court and caused stirs with liberal agitators who walked among the attendees. Behind the scenes, he advocated forcefully for gay attendees and issues. “I don’t understand the concept that a gay person cannot be a conservative; there are so many different things that conservatism stands for,” he told The Huffington Post at 2012’s CPAC. “I see the issue from the vantage point that I don’t even think the media can contemplate. I see how the issue has been settled by the American people that we do live in an incredibly tolerant nation.” Yiannopoulos’ rise also has come amid the political ascendance of the alt-right, with President Donald Trump as its most prominent beneficiary or, alternatively, star. And Trump himself has taken a far more open-minded approach to gay rights than prior Republican nominees or presidents. In the age of Trump, it made some sense to have a similarly provocative figure be the one to break boundaries at institutional conservative functions, argued one prominent gay conservative, who asked not to be named so as to not end up associated with another “Milo controversy.” And yet he still wouldn’t have extended the invitation. “I think it was an in-your-face decision, and I wouldn’t have made it,” he said. “It’s a bridge too far and too fast. If you’re going to have a gay conservative speak at CPAC, make it an intellectual argument. This is entertainment.” By un-inviting Yiannopoulos, CPAC officials hoped that they could quickly stem the tide of anger that erupted when they first chose to bring him to the gathering. It certainly appears to have sparked a broader reconsideration within the conservative and nonconservative universe, with Yiannopoulos’ position at Breitbart apparently no longer secure and his book deal having been axed. But for the gay conservative crowd that has locked horns with CPAC on a yearly basis, it’s yet another indignity that they won’t quickly forget. “It doesn’t really change anything for me,” said LaSalvia. “I don’t think he should have been invited in the first place. I think that his schtick cheapened the important work we did. Yes, we pushed the envelope sometimes, but he goes too far, routinely stepping over the line of decency. He shouldn’t have been on the stage to begin with.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.