Learn more about Chairman
The use of the gender-neutral term Chairperson, or simply Chair, to avoid potential sexist assumptions with use of the term Chairman has been championed by social change since the late 1970s (See Sapir–Whorf hypothesis). If female, the incumbent may be addressed as "Madam Chairman"; the non gender neutral title of "Chairwoman" is sometimes used.
The use of the term Chairman remains widespread: the overwhelming majority of UK's 100 top listed (FTSE 100) companies have "Chairmen". The boards of most Fortune 500 companies are also presided over by Chairmen.
In the case of companies and similarly-organised bodies, there are generally two types of Chairmen: non-executive and executive.
A non-executive Chairman will sit on and chair the main board of a company and be a part-time officer who usually provides support and advice to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This position usually entails fulfilling a similar function on a number of ancillary board committees, as well as being a political figurehead of the Company.
An executive Chairman is a full-time position who typically leads the board and will also take a hands-on role in the company's day to day management.
 Corporate governance
A Chairman is selected by a company’s board to lead it, chair meetings and lead a final consensus from a disparate point of view among its members. The Chairman is the presiding Director over the other Directors on the board and must be fair, a good listener, and a good communicator. Directors have a high level of fiduciary responsibility of overseeing the operation of a corporation.
Traditionally, the Chairman also holds the title of CEO and combined, these are the highest ranking positions in a corporation. The term President is often used interchangeably with Chairman, although this use is more prevalent in the United States. The CEO is the head of the Management Committee, and usually reports to the board, which is headed by the Chairman.
As far as the boards of public companies are concerned, the role of the chairman of the board as distinct from that of the company's CEO or managing director has more recently been brought into focus, stemming from alleged corporate governance shortcomings observed in companies where the two roles are combined. It is believed that the separation of functions within the board of directors or in the structure of the supervisory board and management board would facilitate control over the workings of the company and increase the accountability of the Chief Executive Officer or Chairman of the management board. In an attempt to inject transparency into the relationship between executive management and the board of Directors as well as between management and the market or shareholders, a pivotal document regarding effective governance in the United Kingdom, the Cadbury Report was published in 1992. Its recommendations have been adopted to greater or lesser extent by individual countries within the European Union, the United States, the World Bank, and others.
 Other uses
The terms, chairperson is a typical example of a non-sexist neologism that was invented to replace the conventional chairman, used to describe the presiding officer of a meeting, organization, committee, or other deliberative body. Chair and chairwoman (depending on gender) may also be used in similar context.
While chairperson dates from the 1970s, the use of chair (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) to refer to being in charge of a meeting, as in "to chair a meeting", dates from as early as 1658.
- (French) MEDEF on corporate governance