More than a year of intense disruption has dramatically transformed the environment in which businesses and boards operate. As the pandemic unfolded and home working became mandatory, boards and legal departments were forced to rapidly implement digital alternatives to traditional in-person governance activities, relying entirely on virtual tools and processes to fulfil their duties. And then the hard work really started.
Board agendas expanded to cover a diverse range of critical issues, including the increased threat of cybersecurity breaches resulting from entire workforces logging in to corporate networks from home. Maintaining employee safety and wellbeing amid the global health threat became a critical issue. At the same time, the questions – in some cases existential – of how businesses could continue to function under the restrictions in place and what they could and should do to help resolve the crisis were top priorities.
In parallel, the tragic death of George Floyd prompted a wave of protests over racial injustice and shone a spotlight on diversity in senior corporate roles. Simultaneously, climate awareness gathered momentum as extreme weather incidents took place across the globe.
To respond to these diverse pressures, boards have had to work faster, with a deeper level of insight than ever before, and this change of pace is set to become the status quo. The pandemic’s exposure of the fundamental interdependencies between society, environment and responsible business conduct will continue to drive the ESG agenda as consumers and investors want to see companies contributing more than financially to the world they are privileged to operate.
This significant shift in emphasis was undoubtedly waiting in the wings before 2020, but it has been materially accelerated by the events of the past twelve months. It requires an evolution of governance from the historical quarterly boardroom-based cycle into more frequent instances of deeper engagement between the board and the business. This, in turn, demands a digital, data-driven approach.
The key to modern governance is giving directors, executives and corporate secretariats more transparency in their view of the organisation to help identify and address governance gaps before they become a threat. Greater diversity and frequency of insight is critical to ensuring directors and leadership teams are equipped to make informed decisions and have more opportunity to spot potential crises in advance. This is achieved by implementing a digital infrastructure designed to ensure information flows uninterrupted to the board from all the disparate elements of the business and also integrates external intelligence to assist in delivering valuable perspective. It ensures directors are fully equipped to ask the right questions a provide the level of challenge essential to an effective board-business relationship.
As such, this is digital transformation driven by the demands of modern governance. Data is the most valuable resource in any organisation, and the board is its most senior custodian. Digitising board operations and delivering the right information at the right time through an accessible digital platform that supports collaboration, governance, analytics and ESG measurement helps organisations position themselves strongly to navigate the next phase of recovery and flourish in the era of sustainable value creation.
Learn more about Diligent.
Diligent is the headline sponsor of both our Governance Ireland and Governance 2021: The Next Chapter conferences.
Diligent is the leading provider of modern governance solutions. Our digital-first approach brings together an integrated suite of product solutions, insights and professional expertise that empower leaders to drive change and build resiliency across their organizations. Our solutions help build the infrastructure to operationalize modern governance processes and best practices, transforming effective governance into a long-term, competitive advantage. From secure collaboration and compliance solutions to our industry-leading insights and governance network, we are changing how work gets done at the board and executive levels.
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