As COVID-19 started to spread globally, how did the boards react?

Business Continuity, Leadership We had a couple of meetings in February where the COVID issue was one that was on the radar screen in February. It was being tracked and being monitored, because there was a recognition that, while we weren't quite sure how impactful it was going to be, it was something that we needed to watch.  As the crisis evolved, it became a more prominent part of the agenda. So much so that we ended up meeting specifically for COVID responses, reviewing the communications plan, reviewing the strategy, and then continued those communication meetings on a periodic interval, in some places more than others.  There were three priorities that were the focus. The first of those was clearly employee safety and wellbeing. Ensuring that the employees felt like they were being engaged by the leadership and they understood what was going to be happening. The customers needed to feel like the company was going to be able to be there for them.  We asked how the company opened up new channels and ways of interacting with customers, tracking the business KPIs and understanding how the performance of the business was going to be impacted. Lastly, there were conversations around scenario planning and really thinking about how severe or mild this could be and how the company would need to react in any of those situations.

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Pulse User

We had a couple of meetings in February where the COVID issue was one that was on the radar screen in February. It was being tracked and being monitored, because there was a recognition that, while we weren't quite sure how impactful it was going to be, it was something that we needed to watch.  As the crisis evolved, it became a more prominent part of the agenda. So much so that we ended up meeting specifically for COVID responses, reviewing the communications plan, reviewing the strategy, and then continued those communication meetings on a periodic interval, in some places more than others.  There were three priorities that were the focus. The first of those was clearly employee safety and wellbeing. Ensuring that the employees felt like they were being engaged by the leadership and they understood what was going to be happening. The customers needed to feel like the company was going to be able to be there for them.  We asked how the company opened up new channels and ways of interacting with customers, tracking the business KPIs and understanding how the performance of the business was going to be impacted. Lastly, there were conversations around scenario planning and really thinking about how severe or mild this could be and how the company would need to react in any of those situations.

Pulse User

There's probably no one-size-fits-all answer for how boards are reacting. The reason for that is some companies were actually continuing to grow. Companies like Zoom, Amazon and Netflix. It's ironic that because of this crisis they're marching forward faster than the competition. Then there are companies that are in a horrible situation, hospitality, restaurants, airlines, where it's really the crisis that we haven't seen before. The board's focus in these companies are really different. But in general, I think the role of the board continues to be the oversight. I think the difference in the current situation for companies that aren't necessarily on this up-and-up versus down-and-down. But normal companies are trying to figure out what's happening and how to move forward with oversight of the crisis coupled with looking at potential new business models. When Companies are going to emerge from this crisis is really the focus of the day for boards. Also, boards like to meet in person, especially the public boards. There's always in person meetings once a quarter. Now it's all virtual. And it's really interesting to see the dynamics and how things are changing.  Those virtual meetings will continue for a while. Now that we're looking at how to open the country up safely, business boards really need to be involved in understanding how companies are going to provide that in a safe manner. Whether it's acquiring tests and testing workers. What are the health and safety protocols that they're going to introduce that  had never been in place before. I think boards will need to review that. It’s a big change from business as usual.