Ira Millstein is packing up his corporate governance principles and taking them on the road. The governance maven and senior partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges is leading a group that on Apr. 2 gave the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development a set of recommendations that could dramatically change how non-U.S. companies are governed.
The report calls for smaller, more independent boards and argues that a company's central mission should be creating shareholder wealth. These aren't radical notions in the U.S., but they're a sharp departure from practices overseas. In Japan, boards are almost exclusively made up of insiders; in France, companies believe their commitments to employees and society are every bit as important as their responsibility to shareholders.
Assuming the OECD ministers approve the report, they'll urge companies to get on the bandwagon. But will the reforms take? Many management experts outside the U.S. are skeptical. That leaves investors to demand the same things they do in the U.S.