We are pleased to publish our third and final installment of Deloitte’s 2021 Directors’ alert: A new era of board stewardship begins. When we published the first edition of our director interviews in December 2020, we saw a world in flux: the pandemic was raging around the world and many markets were just entering a winter spike in cases, occasioning more lockdowns and reduced economic activity. At the same time, other economies were recovering, and several of the directors we interviewed, particularly those in China and Southeast Asia, were beginning to draw conclusions about what the pandemic has meant for their businesses, and about the critical decisions their boards have taken that make the difference between success and failure. More than three months on, things remain unclear for many countries. While vaccines have arrived for some, the pandemic has not abated, and it has become clear that the vaccination process and the road to recovery will both be long.
For boards of directors, the rhythm of virtual board and committee meetings continues. New directors are being recruited, interviewed, and onboarded in a completely virtual environment, and the traditional board dinner the night before a meeting has fallen away to, at best, a few minutes of banter into a webcam at the beginning of a videoconference as directors assemble around the virtual boardroom table. And this is just the surface logistics of serving on a board in 2021. Looming much larger are the changes in business models, ways of doing business, and ways of thinking that are being challenged by the extended pandemic.
One theme that has come through in interview after interview has been uncertainty about which of the many changes we have experienced will prove permanent, and which will evaporate as the world transitions to some kind of new normal. These are not easy calls to make: Get it wrong and your business model will be disadvantaged; get it right and you may save your organization untold hours of time, energy, and resources. Tough decisions like these are why we have boards of directors in the first place. Strong and resilient boards will have the diversity of skills, backgrounds, and thought to make reasoned assumptions about the present and the future—and to constructively challenge management’s thinking—steering the organization through turbulent times.
Another theme that has come through in many of our interviews has been the changing societal role of corporations.
To read the full 'Deloitte’s 2021 Directors’ alert,' click the link below:
Authored by Sharon Thorne & Dan Konigsburg.
The events of early 2020 forced most companies to quickly adjust to new challenges. Now, almost a year later, many are still laboring in this "new normal" environment -- increased safety precautions, scaled-down teams and empty offices. With teams scattered geographically and connection opportunities often limited to computer screens, now is a great time for leaders to check in on their workplace culture.
Culture is the optimal performance driver. It is an unsigned contract between an organization and its employees that gives individuals license to accomplish goals and get things done without the burden of worry or uncertainty about negative repercussions. And every employee in an organization has the power to amplify or detract from its culture.
Remote work has been an adjustment (to say the least) for everyone, and its effect on our professional relationships has been just as significant as the impact on daily tasks. For early-career employees, the lack of casual conversations at work poses a considerable challenge. How does one learn best practices to succeed in one’s career when you’re working alone from home? How does one build the professional relationships that are critical for survival and advancement? On the organizational side, how does the business build a culture that supports diversity and inclusion initiatives in the middle of a pandemic? Based on our recent experience leading organizations focused on online mentorship, we believe an organizational commitment to mentorship can address all of these issues.