Chair (official)
The chairman is the highest officer of an organized group such as a board
Board of directors
A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. Other names include board of governors, board of managers, board of regents, board of trustees, and board of visitors...

, committee
A committee is a type of small deliberative assembly that is usually intended to remain subordinate to another, larger deliberative assembly—which when organized so that action on committee requires a vote by all its entitled members, is called the "Committee of the Whole"...

, or deliberative assembly
Deliberative assembly
A deliberative assembly is an organization comprising members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions. In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Burke described the English Parliament as a "deliberative assembly," and the expression became the basic term for a body of...

. The person holding the office is typically elected or appointed by the members of the group. The chairman presides over meeting
In a meeting, two or more people come together to discuss one or more topics, often in a formal setting.- Definitions :An act or process of coming together as an assembly for a common purpose....

s of the assembled group and conducts its business in an orderly fashion. When the group is not in session, the officer's duties often include acting as its head, its representative to the outside world and its spokesperson.


Other terms sometimes used for the office and its holder include presiding officer, president
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

, moderator, chair, and convener. The chairman of a parliamentary chamber is often called the speaker
Speaker (politics)
The term speaker is a title often given to the presiding officer of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body. The speaker's official role is to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The speaker decides who may speak and has the...

. Though chairwoman is sometimes used as a female counterpart to chairman, the terms chair and chairperson are sometimes used to avoid gendered titles altogether. The National Association of Parliamentarians
National Association of Parliamentarians
The National Association of Parliamentarians , is the largest non-profit association of professional parliamentarians in the world.NAP was organized in 1930. As of June 2008, NAP had a membership of about 3,560 parliamentarians in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, and internationally...

 does not approve using "chairperson". In the United States, the presiding officer of the "lower" house of a legislative body, such as the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, is frequently titled the Speaker, while the "upper" house, such as the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, is commonly chaired by a President.

A vice-chairman (or deputy chairman), subordinate to the chairman, is sometimes chosen to assist the chairman and to serve as chairman in the absence of the chairman, or when a motion involving the chairman is being discussed. In the absence of the chairman and vice chairman, groups sometimes elect a chairman pro tempore
Pro tempore
Pro tempore , abbreviated pro tem or p.t., is a Latin phrase which best translates to "for the time being" in English. This phrase is often used to describe a person who acts as a locum tenens in the absence of a superior, such as the President pro tempore of the United States Senate.Legislative...

to fill the role for a single meeting.

The word chair can refer to the place from which the holder of the office presides, whether on a chair, at a lectern, or elsewhere. During meetings, the person presiding is said to be “in the chair”, the person is also referred to as “the chair.” Parliamentary procedure
Parliamentary procedure
Parliamentary procedure is the body of rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies, and other deliberative assemblies...

 requires that members address the “chair” rather than the “chairman,” or by using a person's name. This is one of many customs intended to maintain the presiding officer's impartiality and insuring an objective and impersonal approach.

Riddick's Rules of Procedure
Riddick's Rules of Procedure
Riddick's Rules of Procedure is a parliamentary authority - a book explaining the parliamentary procedure, including the rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings and other operations of the United States Senate. It was written by Floyd M. Riddick and co-authored by Miriam Butcher...

, among others, claim an etymology of chairman as derived from the Latin manus, or "hand", and use this to claim gender-neutrality for the word. Some etymologists consider this to be incorrect, and many dictionaries claim that the word is from "chair" (a seat or office of authority) and "man", a person.

Public corporations

Among public corporations, there are generally two types of chairmen, executive and non-executive. The executive chairman also serves as an executive of the company, usually the chief executive officer
Chief executive officer
A chief executive officer , managing director , Executive Director for non-profit organizations, or chief executive is the highest-ranking corporate officer or administrator in charge of total management of an organization...

 (CEO), although it can exist as a separate position. The non-executive chairman holds no executive position with the company, and is usually an outsider with no other current or previous ties to it.

The non-executive Chairman's duties are typically limited to matters directly related to the board, such as:
  • Chairing the meetings of the board.
  • Organizing and coordinating the board's activities, such as by setting its annual agenda.
  • Reviewing and evaluating the performance of the CEO and the other board members.

Many U.S. companies have an executive chairman, and this method of organization is sometimes called the American model. Having a non-executive chair is common in the United Kingdom and Canada, and is sometimes called the British model. Expert opinion is rather evenly divided over which is the preferable model overall.

Companies with both an executive chairman and a CEO include Ford
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

HSBC Holdings plc is a global banking and financial services company headquartered in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. it is the world's second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine...

,, Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

, and HP
Hewlett-Packard Company or HP is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA that provides products, technologies, softwares, solutions and services to consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises, including...


See also

  • Board of Directors
    Board of directors
    A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. Other names include board of governors, board of managers, board of regents, board of trustees, and board of visitors...

  • European company law
    European company law
    European company law is an emerging field of legal scholarship, which concerns the formation, operation and insolvency of corporations within the European Union. There is presently no substantive European company law as such, although a host of minimum standards are applicable to companies...

  • Executive director
    Executive director
    Executive director is a term sometimes applied to the chief executive officer or managing director of an organization, company, or corporation. It is widely used in North American non-profit organizations, though in recent decades many U.S. nonprofits have adopted the title "President/CEO"...

  • German company law
    German company law
    German company law is an influential legal regime for companies in Germany. The primary form of company is the public company or Aktiengesellschaft . The private company with limited liability is known as a Gesellschaft mit beschränkte Haftung...

  • Non-executive director
    Non-executive director
    A non-executive director or outside director is a member of the board of directors of a company who does not form part of the executive management team. He or she is not an employee of the company or affiliated with it in any other way...

  • Parliamentary procedure in the corporate world
    Parliamentary procedure in the corporate world
    Parliamentary procedure in the corporate world may follow traditional parliamentary authorities such as Robert's Rules of Order or simpler rules of order considered by some commentators to be more appropriate in the corporate setting.-In general:...

  • UK company law
  • US corporate law
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