Costco’s board of directors brings a wealth of
experience to help guide the company
ABOARD OF DIRECTORS for a public company has the dual role of
serving as a watchdog for shareholders and offering strategic
guidance for the company. Costco’s board brings an impressive
wealth of experience and diversity to both roles. Today’s corporate boards
in the United States have been assigned new, critical duties under the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which established higher levels of accountability.
The Connection asked board members from outside the company to com-
ment on their backgrounds, responsibilities and perspectives about Costco.
CC: Given your background and accomplishments,
you likely have choices about the boards you join.
Why did you choose the Costco board of directors?
Dan Evans: Since I left office as governor in 1977 I
have served on approximately 15 corporate boards.
When I was asked to consider Costco’s board, I reflected on what I knew about Costco. My wife, Nancy,
and I were longtime members and shoppers and
thoroughly enjoyed our experience in each of the
stores we visited. I knew the high ethical standards of
Costco and its management and was particularly impressed by Costco’s devotion to customers, employees and the community, as well as shareholders. It was
a clear example of the best in corporate leadership,
and I was delighted to join the team.
John Meisenbach: I joined the Costco board when it
first started. The obvious reason to join was because
of [Costco co-founders] Jeff [Brotman] and Jim
[Sinegal]. They had a clear vision of how they wanted
to build a business. Their strategy was to take care of
the customer and employees, and then the business
and shareholders would prosper.
Jill Ruckelshaus: It’s a very dynamic board with fascinating people. And the company has such a strong
reputation for concern with the shareholders and
employees. And not all companies have both those
qualities; some don’t even have one. But Costco has
them both and it’s well known.
CC: How do you think the role of the corporate board
member is different today than it was, say, a decade
ago? That is, has that role changed in light of what
has happened at Enron, HP and other businesses?
Susan Decker: I believe the role of the board is largely
the same today as it was 10 years ago. However, I think
that most boards function very differently today—