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Stepping in: The board’s role in the COVID-19 crisis

Guidance for boards of directors

COVID-19 represents a true crisis for nearly every board of directors today. Strained supply chains, liquidity concerns, financial strains, absent employees, a move to remote working: the list of operating challenges seems endless. A good response to the crisis includes a lot of things that Deloitte has written about elsewhere—business continuity, resilient leadership, the importance of human capital, back-up plans and the like.

For boards of directors, a good response is likely to be rooted in a deep understanding of the role of the board— knowing when to step in and when not to, and how and when to engage in external activity—such as communicating with stakeholders, regulators, and others. The board acts as the ultimate stewardship body of the company, both guiding and supporting management in decisions around the fight for survival but also ensuring the company positions itself to emerge from the crisis stronger and more resilient. What is essential is board discipline, a cool head, detachment and good judgment under the guidance and leadership of the chair.

Topics covered in this article:

  • Where the board should intervene
  • If/when a board should execute succession
  • How the board should meet
  • How to communicate with shareholders
  • The role of the Chair
  • Reviewing crisis plans
  • How to continue once COVID-19 has passed

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