#OccupyWallStreet moves TO THE BOARDROOM!

As the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters are hitting the streets worldwide, another movement is quietly unfolding online: OccupyTheBoardroom.org (OTB).

The new coalition surfaced on Saturday with the intention of delivering the messages of those who were hurt by the recession to the CEOs of top financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. There are currently over 200 CEOs listed on the website, including Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, and Mukesh Ambani, a Bank of America board member.

‘The 1 per cent have addresses. The 99 per cent have messages,’ the website says. The idea is the ‘1 per cent’ reflects board members while the 99 per cent are those willing to have their voices heard. Users can access a list of CEOs and share their stories regarding bankruptcy, job losses and unfair treatment. According to OTB (which claims it has the contact information for all members listed), prizes will be awarded to ‘the best, funniest and most revelatory interactions.’

Moreover, the website promises to ‘hand-deliver’ the stories to the executive selected by a user. All messages, videos and images will be publicly viewable.

The coterie has already received close to 2,300 tweets and 5,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook.

‘The anger, frustration and collective voice is too large to ignore,’ saysFay Feeney, a corporate board consultant who provides board chairs with advice on ways to improve boardroom performance. ‘This [OTB website] is personal and targeted to what you earn (along with power and influence) [and] banks are among the first businesses to be called out, occupied and disrupted.’

As the OWS protests continues to morph into a massive movement, Feeney suggests that board members and corporate counsels prepare themselves for a bumpy ride by future-proofing their companies

i. Get your crisis communication plan ready – protect your reputation and brand

ii. Get OWS on your risk map and board agenda.  Evaluate the business opportunity and assess the impact on your business strategy, competitors, clients, employees and on your CEO and directors.

iii. Take action now!  It is not too early to begin counteracting the impact this movement could have on your business.

iv. Listen: By using social media, you can begin to gather business intelligence specific to your business. 

Protests can spin out of control, and with real time data processing from Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, getting a message across is now faster than ever. Governance professionals, board chairs and CEOs should always remain one step ahead in protecting their boardroom, Feeney says.  

[Article by Aarti Maharaj, Corporate Secretary]

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