Nell Minow claimed another award recently. The University of Chicago gave her an Alumni Association 2010 Professional Achievement Award. In her coverage, Meg McSherry Breslin includes this interesting bit of history concerning a run in with her father, Newton Minow, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a senior counsel at the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin.
The elder Minow ran afoul of his daughter’s long-running efforts to get corporate directors to take their jobs more seriously. While working with the Aon Corporation to strengthen its board, Nell Minow realized one of the directors—her father—had missed far too many board meetings. She didn’t hesitate to call him to task.
“She called me one day and said, ‘Dad, this is going to be one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had with you,’” recalls Newt. “She said, ‘We advise our clients never to vote for anybody who hasn’t attended 75 percent of the meetings.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m your father!’”
Newt Minow was voted in regardless that year, but he proudly claims he’s never missed a board meeting since. “And I believe what Nell is doing is correct,” he says. “Boards clearly are better today than what they were.”