2021 Directors' alert part 3

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2021 Directors' alert

A new era of board stewardship begins (April 2021)

Authors: Dan Konigsburg (US) & Sharon Thorne (US)

Many organizations will need to transform themselves to overcome the systemic challenges and inequities that have surfaced during COVID-19. Change will require bold steps—and new skills—from board leadership. The time is now.

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.

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