International Call for Responsible Board Responses to Covid-19
Directors and boards urged to seize the moment and build a more caring, collaborative, resilient, responsible and sustainable form of capitalism
Coulson-Thomas' investigations find: "Some boards are risk averse and overly cautious. They stifle new ideas and seem focused on returning to pre-pandemic ways, rather than adopting more sustainable ones. Many boards need to re-assess corporate purpose, priorities and direction. Their emphasis may need to switch from monitoring and compliance to inspiring creativity, encouraging initiative, enabling innovation and supporting entrepreneurship."
The Professor believes: "Corporate governance should not be a straitjacket and constraint. We need a greater diversity of approaches that better reflect the varied aspirations, contexts, situations and stages of development of companies. Governance needs to be capable, flexible, representative, relevant and resilient. More attention should be given to what directors do as opposed to board structures."
Coulson-Thomas suggested: "Rather than hunker down, boards could seek new income streams. They could encourage collaboration in the face of shared problems. They could embrace environmental and social as well as financial and economic objectives, and accept accountability to a wider range of stakeholders."
He continued: "Lockdown has been good for wildlife. Activities that reduce biodiversity, waste natural capital, increase pollution, or produce greenhouse gases have reduced. Rapidly restoring pre-pandemic economic is neither desirable nor sustainable. We need simpler, healthier and more fulfilling lifestyles. Helping people to adapt and increasing productivity could deliver more sustainable value from less natural capital. Boards have an opportunity to re-boot enterprise, re-purpose companies and re-engage with stakeholders and the societies in which businesses operate."
Coulson-Thomas concluded: "Unthinking adherence to standard governance arrangements should not get in the way of what needs to be done. Boards must catch the moment to earn the trust and respect of the excluded, exposed, worried and vulnerable. Good governance should be about fostering a more caring, collaborative, resilient, responsible and sustainable form of capitalism that inspires people with the right personal qualities to become entrepreneurs and/or pursue directorial careers."
Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas, President of the Institute of Management Services and Chairman of Adaptation is a Distinguished Professor at the Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management-Research. He has advised directors and boards in over 40 countries. His comments were made during a SRISIIM International Webinar. Details of his investigation can be obtained from: https://www.adaptation.ltd/