Board Talk: The Board View in 2022

In 2021 we produced a report titled “Evolution or Revolution? Board capability in a post-COVID world.” A year has passed since that report, and we wanted to return to the observations within it to see how they are playing out. While we cannot claim yet to be in a post-COVID era, there has been some shift in the focus of Boards in light of the pandemic, and equally some areas which remain unclear or inconsistent at this point in time.

Share and learn
A strong CEO and Chair relationship is a critical driver of company performance in a volatile world. The willingness to share experiences, observations and knowledge between Boards and CEOs remains at a high. Aligning the board and CEO not only unlocks value but can empower boards and CEOs to embrace bolder change.

Boards be nimble, Boards be quick
The pandemic gave rise to the ‘nimble Board’ – responding in a strategic but noticeably more agile way. The flexibility and interactivity afforded by technology has remained an important tool for Boards.. The sheer pace of change happening in business and ubiquitous nature of technology in all our lives has made way to a massive acceleration in tech adoption and development with technology savvy non-executive directors at the top of the board-hiring wish list. The digital agenda is stronger than ever.

Hybrid is hard and is here to stay
While technology has enabled a completely different virtual routine or rhythm to the board gathering it has created an ongoing conundrum around the physical office space. Will the physical boardroom become a nice to have rather than a must have? Hybrid is likely going to become the norm for organisations and leading a successful hybrid board or leadership team remains an on-going challenge and requires organisations to reconceptualise many aspects of the employee experience, culture and board effectiveness.

The power of Government
The past two years have shown an increasing demand for non-executive leaders who understand and bring experience of government, recognising the impact government can have on making change to business. Individuals with strong government, political engagement experience or a strong understanding of the policy making environment is increasingly sought after.

Sustainable leadership is more about sustainability than anything else
ESG oversight continues to top governance priorities as sustainability efforts gain rapid momentum in society with sustainability increasingly seen as a critical leadership competency too. Boards and leadership teams are facing growing pressures from stakeholders to increase their oversight of ESG risks and opportunities and it is essential that leaders know how to enable and drive sustainability within an organisation. Effective, embedded sustainability agendas and a board that can speak authentically to the objectives and results of their sustainability activities goes a long way in today’s world.

Action in diversifying boardrooms
A similar undertaking in many ways to sustainability is the development of diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts around the board table to help make our world more equitable. Boardrooms should reflect the societies they serve and those that can recruit and retain diverse individuals and meet the needs of their increasingly diverse customer bases will be best set to succeed in the future. the best of our clients are now starting to look beyond some of the classic areas of DEI and more towards social background.