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Company: Diligent Corporation
Category: People-Focused CEO of the Year

Nomination Title: Brian Stafford for People Focused CEO of the Year



In March 2015, Brian Stafford assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of Diligent Corporation. Since that time, Brian has led a transformation of the company by balancing rapid growth (in terms of headcount, footprint, and new products) with a dedicated focus on people.

With an innate instinct on what’s best for Diligent’s employees, Brian took the company private in 2016. He scaled the business with a smart combination of organic growth and acquisitions. Most significantly, he spearheaded the launch of a new market category – modern governance – that’s solidified Diligent as a pioneer in the governance space.

Through several strategic acquisitions that have almost doubled headcount and number of office locations, Brian has led by example to foster a values and mission- driven collegial work environment that is willing to adapt for the better of all employees. One poignant example is a generous parental leave program offered by an acquired company that was adopted across the entire Diligent organization. By being open to other company cultures, Brian has truly united employees in offices around the world.

Brian is committed to fostering a flat organization that is not hierarchical but focused intensely on employee growth.

Diligent has always had award winning customer service experience. Since 2019, Brian has increased focus on internal customer service and employee experience through a number of targeted programs to ensure the Diligent employee experience is award winning as well.

-Continuous Improvement: Brian spearheaded an annual internal Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey for all internal- facing teams to gather feedback and improve internal customer experience. Under Brian, Diligent has started measuring Organizational Health to get a sense of employee sentiment and inform action plans for improvement.

-Leadership Development: The Leadership Excellence and Acceleration Program (LEAP) helps leaders across Diligent accelerate growth and drive results through their people. Brian also holds a twice per year leadership strategy sessions to bolster top leaders to better lead and guide their teams.

-Leadership Recognition: The Global Leadership Team, a program for the top 10% of leaders, encourages collaboration on shaping the future of leadership at Diligent and build deeper connectivity with employees on the front lines.

-Strengthening collaboration: The Diligent Ambassador program enables top performers to work in another global office location for three months to facilitate relationships across teams and brands.

-Creativity & Innovation: To promote internal innovation, this program encourages employees to suggest ideas for new programs and ways to improve the Diligent experience. In 2019, Community by Diligent, which was developed out of an employee push, went to market.

-Community Focus: An employee- led initiative resulted in the formation of Diligent Jazz, a program focused on giving back to the community.

Throughout Diligent’s accelerated growth, Brian has remained people- centric. He truly believes people are the greatest asset at Diligent and thus their experience should reflect that. He sets the tone by:

-A unique visibility and approachability. He personally hosts 30+ regular one- on- one meetings with employees from around the business. He makes time to visit global offices where he sits out in the open at communal tables, not behind closed- doors.

-Transparency and trust: Brian is open about company performance, sharing slides out of every quarterly board deck. He is candid, welcomes questions, and ends conversations asking “what can I do to help”

-Values and mission- driven. Brian believes in the vision of Diligent and has been able to unite people across brands and offices by drawing connections to the Diligent values and a commitment to modern governance

-Consistent communication: Brian holds numerous town halls to connect personally with Diligent employees around the world. In light of COVID- 19, the safety of Diligent’s employees are clearly Brian’s top concern. He’s layered in empathy into each internal message on the pandemic and committed to regular employee communications and weekly videos. He’s brought a sense of community by encouraging employees to share photos of their home workspace and come up with fun theme ideas based on Diligent’s values. Employee feedback on COVID- 19 proves his messaging has been excellent.

-Being an advocate: Brian has confidentially advocated for employees behind the scenes with board members.

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