Lincare defends board

Saturday, June 30, 2007

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Our board makeup is just fine, thanks, said Lincare in response to a request that the provider diversify its all-white male board of directors.
The Calvert Group is a Bethesda, Md.-based family of socially responsible mutual funds that owns 28,320 shares in Lincare. Earlier this year, Calvert submitted a resolution to Lincare that would have required the company to consider female and minority candidates for board openings. Currently, all five directors are white men.
In asking shareholders to vote against the resolution, Lincare said its nomination process identifies the best possible candidates--regardless of race, gender, religion or ethnicity.
"Imposing gender and minority requirements...would unduly restrict the process and not necessarily result in the best director candidates," said Lincare in a letter to shareholders April 5.
With all of the scorekeeping in today's competitive business environment, companies take such actions seriously, said Alan Brochstein, president of Houston-based AB Analytical Services.
"Years ago this wasn't something that was common, but now shareholder groups are effecting a lot of changes," he said. "Some would argue that having a more diverse board might help the company."
One shareholder asked: "Does a company do better because it has the right people or because the board is diverse? We put emphasis on the management team. They have to be honest, ethical, capable and understand the industry."
Balaji Gandhi, an analyst with New York-based Oppenheimer & Co., said it never struck him that Lincare did not have a female on its board.
"I think what's interesting is you see more minorities among the smaller providers," said Gandhi. "(Lack of diversity) seems to be a function of the bigger chains."