The Conference Board

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The Conference Board
Formation1916; 107 years ago (1916)
TypeBusiness membership and research organization
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit
Headquarters845 Third Avenue
New York City, USA
Global; regional offices in Brussels, Beijing, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuwait City
Key people
Steve Odland, President and CEO
845 Third Avenue, Manhattan

The Conference Board, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit business membership and research group organization. It counts over 1,000 public and private corporations and other organizations as members, encompassing 60 countries. The Conference Board convenes conferences and peer-learning groups, conducts economic and business management research, and publishes several widely tracked economic indicators.


The organization was founded in 1916 as the National Industrial Conference Board (NICB). At the time, tensions between labor and management in the United States were seen as potentially explosive in the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 and the Ludlow Massacre in 1914. In 1915 presidents of twelve major corporations in the United States and six leading industry associations met in Yama, New York to formulate the business community's response to continued labor unrest and growing public criticism.[1]

After additional crisis meetings, the National Industrial Conference Board was officially founded May 5, 1916, at the Hotel Gramatan in Bronxville, New York.[2] Although many of the organizations’ founders—including former AT&T president Frederick P. Fish and General Electric executive Magnus W. Alexander, its first president—had supported the open-shop movement, by 1916 they regarded national unions such as the American Federation of Labor as permanent fixtures of the American economy, and urged negotiation and concord.[3]

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the National War Labor Board formed by President Woodrow Wilson asked the NICB to formulate plans that would keep war industries running and strife-free. Its recommendations—based on cooperation between representatives of employers, employees, and government—were adopted in full.[2] During and after the war, the NICB conducted pioneering research into workers' compensation laws and the eight-hour workday,[4] and established the U.S. Cost of Living Index. Though often mistrusted in its early years as an “employers union” funding studies against the labor movement,[5] the non-profit NICB was also seen “as a spokesman for the so-called progressive wing of the business community [and] produced hundreds of research reports on economic and social issues facing the United States.”[3]

The organization today remains funded by the contributions of members, often Fortune 500 companies. By the 1930s, however, it had already lost most of its character as an industry lobby. Virgil Jordan, a writer and economist who replaced Alexander as president on the latter's death in 1932, established a Bureau of Economic Audit and Control to offer members and the public an independent source of studies on unemployment, pensions, healthcare, and related issues in the midst of the Great Depression, when many questioned the credibility of the government's economic statistics.[2] Unions soon joined the NICB alongside corporations for access to its research, conferences, and executive network.

The organization is considered an unbiased “trusted source for statistics and trends, second only to perhaps the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics”.[6] After World War II, The Conference Board—the shortened name adopted in 1970—expanded to non-U.S. members for the first time. It has offices in Brussels, Beijing, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The Conference Board of Canada was spun off as an independent non-profit in 1981.[citation needed]

Economic Indicators[edit]

The Conference Board publishes a number of regular indicators for United States and international economies that are widely tracked by investors and policy makers. They include:

  • U.S. Consumer Confidence Index – Begun by The Conference Board in 1967, this monthly survey of 5,000 households is widely established as the leading measure of American consumer confidence.[7] Results from the household survey are tabulated to provide a barometer of the U.S. economy (currently indexed to the year 1985 = 100).
  • CEO Confidence Survey – The quarterly Measure of CEO Confidence gauges the outlook of chief executives in their own industries and the economy as a whole.[8]
  • Leading Economic Indexes – In the 1960s, the U.S. Department of Commerce began researching and releasing business cycle indicators, which use composite data points (including manufacturing, construction, and stock market indicators) to time economic expansions, recessions, and recoveries. In December 1995, The Conference Board took over the business indicator program from the government and continues to publish leading, coincident, and lagging indexes for the U.S. economy each month.[9] The program was also expanded to other economies; beyond the U.S., The Conference Board currently publishes leading, coincident, and trailing indexes for the Australia, Brazil, China, the Euro Area, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, and the U.K.
  • Employment Trends Index – Created in 2008, the Employment Trends Index aggregates eight separate indicators and “offers a short-term, forward look at employment [that] gives economists and investors a new forecasting tool. It also helps business executives sharpen their short- to medium-term hiring and compensation planning.”[10]
  • Help Wanted OnLine – The Help Wanted OnLine program uses crawler technology to survey job openings posted on approximately 1,000 online job boards. The monthly data series compares labor supply (job vacancies) against demand (unemployed workers) to determine the tightness of the job market for individual metro areas and occupation categories. The online program is the successor of the Help Wanted Advertising Index, which surveyed print newspaper ads.

The organization also releases regular global and regional growth outlooks and commentaries on economic news.

Notable research[edit]

The Conference Board's research reports and experts are often featured in a wide range of global business media—from specialist trade publications to the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg News, Forbes and Fortune.

Notable examples include:

  • C-Suite Outlook – A recurring survey of the most pressing challenges and responses facing CEOs and other top executives across industries and regions.[11]
  • Annual benchmarking reports and data dashboards that reveal emerging trends in areas including CEO succession,[12] executive compensation,[13] corporate board practices,[14] and shareholder voting.[15]
  • Annual survey on US salary increase budgets across industries and seniority.[16]
  • Annual job satisfaction survey of U.S. workers.[17]
  • Annual survey on corporate communications practices and trends.[18]
  • The economic impact of the child care industry.[19]
  • The management and leadership preferences of millennials.[20]
  • Policy solutions for making capitalism more sustainable.[21]

Notable staff[edit]


  1. ^ Tranger, James. The New York Chronology: The Ultimate Compendium of Events, People and Anecdotes from the Dutch to the Present. ISBN 978-006052341-1. p. 356
  2. ^ a b c "Conference Board timeline" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-02-22. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  3. ^ a b "Collection: National Industrial Conference Board (NICB) records". Hagley Museum and Library Archives. Retrieved 2022-09-29.
  4. ^ Board, National Industrial Conference (1918). The Eight-hour Day Defined. The Board.
  5. ^ Laue, J. Charles (1926-10-31). "LABOR AND CAPITAL TO BATTLE OVER UNIONISM; Campaign of American Federation of Labor to Combat Company Unions and To Organize Open Shop Industries Is Fought by Anti-Union Employers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-02-25.
  6. ^ "CONFERENCE BOARD A TRUSTED RESOURCE". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2023-02-25.
  7. ^ “Consumer Confidence: An Online NewsHour Special Report.” The Newshour with Jim Lehrer. PBS. May 2001. Archived 2013-03-25 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Staff, Investopedia (19 June 2005). "CEO Confidence Survey". Archived from the original on 31 May 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  9. ^ "Conference Board: Composite Index Of Leading Indicators". 12 April 2005. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  10. ^ "Press release" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-02-22. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  11. ^ Gryta, Thomas (2022-01-13). "Inflation Surge Is on Many Executives' List of 2022 Worries". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 2022-02-23. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  12. ^ McGregor, Jena. "Analysis | Fewer companies are forcing CEOs to retire when they hit their golden years". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2020-10-02. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  13. ^ Murray, Alan. "After coronavirus, expect a 'new' Delta". Fortune. Archived from the original on 2022-09-29. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  14. ^ Fuhrmans, Vanessa (2019-04-24). "What's Keeping More Women From Board Seats: Little Turnover". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 2020-08-10. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  15. ^ Paine, Lynn S.; Srinivasan, Suraj (2019-10-14). "A Guide to the Big Ideas and Debates in Corporate Governance". Harvard Business Review. ISSN 0017-8012. Archived from the original on 2020-09-02. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  16. ^ Davidson, Paul. "Hey millennials, look out below! Gen Zers may already be catching up in the salary race". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2020-02-24. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  17. ^ Weber, Lauren (2019-08-29). "Younger Workers Report Biggest Gains in Happiness With Pay". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 2020-08-10. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  18. ^ "Corporate Communications Practices: 2019 Edition". Archived from the original on 2022-09-29. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  19. ^ Tan, Anjelica (2020-05-15). "Working parents could face lack of child care as the economy restarts". The Hill. Archived from the original on 2022-09-29. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  20. ^ "Are Millennial Leaders Different?". Fortune. Archived from the original on 2020-10-28. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  21. ^ "Election Center 2020". Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board. Archived from the original on 2020-07-04. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  22. ^ "Remembering OurBrainBank Board Member Gail Fosler". 10 April 2023. Retrieved 28 August 2023.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]