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Boardroom responses to COVID-19 crisis "viewed in positive light" finds ICSA survey

19 April 2020

THE LATEST survey conducted by The Chartered Governance Institute (ICSA) and governance recruitment specialist The Core Partnership finds that 80% of respondents have confidence in the way in which their organisation's Board of Directors is handling the Coronavirus pandemic. Just 2% have little confidence in the way that their Board is responding to the crisis.

Peter Swabey, policy and research director at The Chartered Governance Institute, explained: “The majority of respondents feel that their Board is handling the response to the COVID-19 crisis pretty well, which is testament to the crisis management plans that most organisations already had in place. While the Coronavirus is probably at the more extreme end of what many organisations might have envisaged, having procedures in place has clearly helped them respond to the unprecedented disruption that the pandemic has unleashed. Almost three-quarters of respondents to the survey stated that their Board of Directors had contingency procedures in place which have helped them to respond to the crisis.”

When questioned as to how the pandemic might impact their company in the longer term, responses ranged from “severely” to “not much”. Answers to that particular question included the following:

“In the short term we will suffer operational difficulties, but longer term we feel that our company can play a role in supporting the global recovery”

“It will have a short term impact on productivity, but the lessons learned and experience gained will benefit the business in the longer term”

“Reduced business opportunities and greater competition when the new normal returns”

“Think it will change dramatically, both in terms of our markets and the way in which we work going forward”

“There will be a significant impact on my company, other businesses and the UK economy as a whole”

“It will need many companies to have a complete review of how they operate in the future, particularly so those in the tourism, hospitality and catering industries”

“The importance of clear communication channels has crystallised”

Opinions on future divided

Commenting further on the survey results (themselves based on answers from 86 respondents across a variety of business sectors), Swabey stated: “It's impossible to say what the longer term impact of the current crisis will be, either economically or in terms of changes to working practices. Some respondents believe that it will radically and irreparably change the global economic landscape and that some organisations will not survive, with the charity and arts sectors expected to be hit hard. Others are more optimistic and believe that it will create opportunities to serve clients in different ways. Some also feel that changes in working practices could help to improve companies’ green credentials if a reduction in face-to-face meetings means that fewer business trips are taken.”

In conclusion, Swabey observed: “The one clear picture to emerge is that many businesses expect an increase in home working. More hot desking in the future could lead to smaller premises being required once organisations do return to working in an office environment. Similarly, an increase in online shopping could see an upturn in surplus shop space. Whatever the effect in the long term, the lived experience that organisations are undergoing now should help them to make stronger and more robust plans for the future as they will have greater understanding of how their organisations really copy under periods of sustained pressure.”

The Chartered Governance Institute is the qualifying and membership body for governance with over 125 years’ experience of educating and supporting governance professionals. With a Royal Charter purpose of leading ‘effective and efficient governance and administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’, the organisation provides professional development, guidance and thought leadership while working alongside regulators and policy-makers to champion high standards.