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Corporate Governance 4.0

The forward-looking board of director

Each day board members face an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. To successfully navigate sometimes dramatic economic changes and crises, boards must remain resilient and forward-looking.

This white paper, presented by the Swiss Board Institute and Deloitte, provides a set of guiding principles for boards, focusing on the role of the future-oriented board, the chairman and the CEO, and also includes a view on the auditor of the future and auditing’s relevance for the board.

Members of the board contribute their expertise to long-term strategic topics. Instilling a culture of innovation from the top, mastering strategic objectives, and providing the required skills and competencies is key.

Defining the skills profiles of candidates for the board, creating and continuously assessing an internal management pipeline, and retaining the best talent in the company are essential tasks for board members.

Regular analysis and assessment of the organisational structure is needed in order to adapt to external and internal changes.

The “three Cs” of a forward-looking board of directors  - written by Prof. Patricia Klarner, Prof. Gilbert Probst and Prof. Monika Kircher

Key success factors in the time of crisis

In a crisis the chairman, board and the CEO face role-specific challenges. Navigating crises successfully depends on collaboration and clearly defined roles and responsibilities and other key factors. Written by Prof. Gilbert Probst and Prof. Achim Schmitt:

  1. Defining a trusted relationship between the chairman and the board
  2. Keeping the firm’s main purpose in focus
  3. Actively expressing sympathy, empathy, and understanding within the board and to the chairman and CEO
  4. Setting the tone of the organisation’s response, and ensuring management’s actions and communications are effective
  5. Integrating the lessons learned from the crisis to ensure the review of a future contingency plan


The auditor of the future


The auditor should look ahead at topics and areas relevant to the future and become a sounding board for the audit committee chairman. Successful auditors will bring insights and benchmarking to companies and help them stay abreast of changes on the horizon. Digitalisation and innovation are vital for the auditor’s role and for the auditor’s interaction with the board. Written by Lisa Watson, Sophie Morin, Fabien Bryois and Alexandre Buga.

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