On the board’s agenda
Top of mind topics for board directors
Explore our regular publication, On the board’s agenda, highlighting current focus areas for directors
Artificial intelligence and ethics: An emerging area of board oversight responsibility
The unprecedented situation the entire world finds itself in due to the COVID-19 pandemic presents fundamental challenges to businesses of all sizes and maturities. As the thinking shifts from crisis response to recovery, it’s clear there will be a greater need for scenario planning in a world remade by COVID-19. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will likely be at the forefront of driving data-driven scenario planning given its ability to deal with large volumes and varieties of data to match the velocity of a rapidly changing landscape. As the use of AI rises, boards will increasingly be called upon to address an emerging area of oversight responsibility at the intersection of AI and ethics.
Governing through the pandemic
It is too soon to know whether, how, and to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to permanent changes—the “next normal”—in how companies are governed or if, post-pandemic, we will go back to the way things were just a few short months ago. In the meantime, governing through the pandemic and the post-pandemic recovery raises a host of new challenges, while also offering potential opportunities. The purpose of this On the board’s agenda is to consider some ways in which boards may get through the pandemic and to contemplate the future of governance in a post-COVID-19 world.
The strategic audit committee: A 2020 preview
To anyone familiar with the role and responsibilities of audit committees, it will come as no surprise that the audit committee is sometimes called the “kitchen sink” committee. That is because at many companies, any topic that isn’t clearly the responsibility of another committee or the full board frequently ends up on the audit committee agenda.
Due to this and other factors, the audit committee agenda is usually jam-packed, and audit committees need to be strategic, prioritising the matters they handle and using their time efficiently and effectively. The need for this strategic approach will almost surely increase in 2020, as the number and complexity of issues faced by boards and audit committees continue to grow.
The 2020 boardroom agenda: More topics, more oversight
The role of the board of directors and its committees is rapidly expanding. New matters seem to arise all the time, and the board is viewed, in the court of public opinion if not in courts of law, as being responsible for everything the company does or does not do.
There are items that have been on the board’s agenda for many years including oversight of risk, strategy, and executive compensation. In recent years, other matters have appeared on the agenda, and taken up more of the board’s attention, including board composition, culture, shareholder engagement and sustainability.
This edition of On the board’s agenda discusses some of the matters expected to occupy much of the board’s attention and time in 2020.