Board members’ perspective
on the future of governance

Research Purpose: Conduct a study to understand what board members think the impact of the coronavirus crisis will be on organisational purpose and resilience, corporate governance and the evolution of the board.

Project Partners: The survey is being run in partnership with the FT Board Director Programme.

Context: The coronavirus crisis has put a spotlight on many issues including organisational purpose and viability, leadership and governance.

Governments, organisations and institutions are under enormous pressure. Many organisations, forced to be idle, are at risk of collapse while others in select sectors are operating beyond capacity. The knock-on of these extreme scenarios is revealing vulnerabilities in global trade and extended supply chains from global, national to local level. With the threat of global recession, the long-term viability of the current global economic model is being questioned.

Significant government intervention is being made in an attempt to support the economy and wider financial, social and health systems. Reallocation of labour and resource across sectors is being made, as is the move to work from home on mass scale. Unprecedented large-scale layoffs and rising unemployment is raising concern about the longer-term impact of the crisis to the livelihoods and society.

Leaders are having to make decisions at speed and scale using imperfect information. Laws, regulations, policies and processes are being lifted to allow institutions and organisations greater flexibility to innovate and adapt in order to better respond to their nation’s needs. Some fear these changes will not be temporary and may be a threat to democracy.

Boards are under scrutiny for their ability to meet their fiduciary duties on key issues such as risk oversight and mitigation, crisis management, debt relief, dividend payments and their specific duties under s.172 of the Companies Act 2006.

Close attention is being paid to how companies respond to the unprecedented challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic and how they treat stakeholders. The crisis is seen by some as a test of stakeholder capitalism and the way businesses, governments and civil society can work together for the common good.

Some see this as an opportunity for business to create a new social contract with society and feel the coronavirus crisis will lead to the reinvention of capitalism.

As leaders around the world try to navigate today and the implications of decisions while holding sight of tomorrow there is an opportunity to understand how and where leaders across sectors and cultures feel this experience will shape the future.

Use of information and how they will be shared.

The research findings will be shared with members and made public to;

  • Provide new exclusive insights for FT Board Director Programme members
  • Stimulate ongoing discussion and debate on these topics including from a cross cultural perspective
  • Contribute where applicable to future FT Board Director Programme course content