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Meetings, commitments and evaluation

2020 Belgium Spencer Stuart Board Index

2020 Snapshot

 6

the average ExCo size

 16 %

the proportion of women on the ExCo

 1.85

the number of board mandates held by directors in listed companies

 58 %

of chairs sit on at least two other listed boards

 60 %

of Bel Mid companies did not complete a board evaluation last year.

Meetings

The average number of scheduled meetings per year is 8.8, slightly more than last year. The Bel 20 companies held slightly fewer (8.5) scheduled meetings on average compared with the Bel Mid (8.9). The number of scheduled meetings across both indices ranged from one to 20. Although the average number of meetings has hardly changed, the distribution of meetings has shifted. Thus the number of companies holding eight to nine or 12 or more meetings has increased significantly since 2019, but  fewer companies hold six to seven or 10 to 11 meetings. The most common annual frequencies recorded among Belgian boards remain between six and seven and eight and nine.

Meeting frequency
Meeting % of companies
4–5 17.5%
6–7 22.8%
8–9 22.8%
10–11 15.8%
12+ 19.3%

Director commitments

The average number of outside public board mandates (number of additional board mandates in listed companies) held by all directors is 0.85, on a par with the previous year. The number per individual director ranges from zero to eight. Non-executive directors sit on an average of 0.8 outside boards (including chairs); executive directors sit on an average of 0.4.

By sector, directors serving on consumer and healthcare company boards declared the highest average number of external quoted boards, at very close to one per director. Financial services companies had the lowest average, at below 0.7 boards per director.

Chairs averaged 1.2 outside quoted boards, a slight decrease from the previous year. In 2019, 33 chairs (58%) sat on at least two other public boards. Luc Bertrand, for example, chaired three companies in our sample: Ackermans & van Haaren, CFE, and SIPEF; and Frank Donck, chair of Atenor, also sits on the boards of Barco, Elia, and KBC Group.

Among the new directors, only 10% hold an existing position in another Bel 20 or Bel Mid company board, which helps to refresh the director population of Belgian listed companies.

Average number of outside quoted boards per director (by industry)

Board evaluation

The Belgian Corporate Governance Code recommends that companies conduct a board evaluation every two or three years. This can be carried out internally or by using an external facilitator.

In line with last year, 60% of Belgian companies carried out a full board assessment. Of those, only 18% of companies used an external firm. Among Bel 20 companies, 20% used an external firm, 75% conducted a review internally, and 5% did not carry out an evaluation. Among the Bel Mid companies, 5% used a third party, 35% conducted a review internally, and 60% did not perform an evaluation in the past year.