Impact on Governance
The organization’s management is responsible for identifying, assessing and responding to risks. These include emerging and atypical risks, as well as risks which are newly developing and difficult to fully assess but could affect the viability of an organization’s strategy.
The board of directors has a fiduciary duty to ensure the organization acts in the best interest of its stakeholders. Board members should oversee the organization’s ability to successfully identify and respond to emerging risks, as well as provide timely and transparent information to internal and external stakeholders.
During times of crisis, people look to their leaders for strength and stability. Leaders do not wish to be caught off guard, especially when a situation escalates and thrusts the organization into chaos. Management and the board must work together to ensure a strong culture and effective communication is maintained throughout the process. Consider the following steps:
- Review the operational risk management capabilities, such as crisis management, business continuity, third-party risk and insurance. Verify that all key members of the team have been identified and fully understand their duties and are confident in their ability to carry out the responsibilities. If the operational risk management capabilities do not exist or are insufficient, consider involving risk management and internal audit professionals to assist in rapid development.
- Encourage collaboration across the organization to develop a strategy for adjustments to business continuity plans that adapt to evolving conditions.
- Center your focus on key business outcomes. This may require a different cadence, specific measurements for remote teams, and empathy during difficult situations. Focusing on your communications plan and your work culture will allow you to manage through distractions.
- Establish clear responsibilities between the board, audit and risk committees, and management team. Assess whether management has adequate resources internally or externally to help in assessing and mitigating risk.
- Ensure timely and relevant information is being received by the board.
- Develop centralized, timely messaging from leaders disseminated to employees to instil confidence and calm, and counter fear and misinformation.
- Require transparency in communications and set expectations for the frequency of communications.
- Ensure there is a platform or communication channel (e.g. hotline or website) to timely communicate information about COVID-19 inside and outside the organization.