Board’s Role During Crisis : Practical Tips for Boards During Covid-19

April 06, 2020 Share this article:

Produced by Julie Garland-McLellan, Consultant at AltoPartners Australia and non-executive director and board consultant based in Sydney, Australia.

What should your board be doing right now? Here is practical advice for boards and directors, and a list of things you can do to support your company.

According to the Australian Institue of Company Director’s (AICD), the board’s role right now is to:

  1. Be informed
  2. Ask the right questions
  3. Support management
  4. Lead through crisis and uncertainty
  5. Continue usual board oversight and director duties

How your board should respond to covid-19

  • Prepare for an avalanche of information, including “fake facts”
  • Use credible sources for facts - be aware of daily new information and directives. Follow updates directly on your local government websites
  • Control your communications - frequent, clear and easy for staff, suppliers, clients / customers and other stakeholders to access and understand
  • Revisit your business model and capabilities - seek opportunities to adapt, consolidate, exapnd, partner, serve and protect. Can your company benefit from this?
  • Be aware of changing consumer and broader society conduct - uncertainty and fear may create new risks. Talk often.
  • Have an agreed response and take rapid action if there is an outbreak in your organisation.
  • Understand the likely impacts of outbreaks in other organisations that you work with.
  • Revisit your business continuity plan and update it with current foreseeable scenarios.
  • Don’t forget board unity is important - have frequent short conversations using technology to remain a cogesive team.

Things to put on your board agenda

  • Employee safety - number 1 at every meeting
  • Crisis plan - is it working as intended?
  • Scenario planning / war room tactics - what could happen and what will we do if it does?
  • Communication plan - who do we need to talk with, what do they need to hear from us, what do we need to hear from them?
  • Have we prioritised the latest best practice supported by staff education, hygiene processes, etc?
  • What are the lastest public health direction / shutdowns, restrictions on travel and work attendance?
  • How long is our runway? What do we need to do, and when? Do we fully understand staff pay and leave provisions in the current environment?
  • Do we have clear guidelines and trust around remote work? Many workers and business partners are stressed - are we supporting them?
  • Are we protecting privacy while also complying with all public health directives?
  • Have we reviewed contracts to establish if and when force majeure clauses may be invoked?
  • What does management need and want from us? Are we asking for too many reports? Could we help with anything?
  • Are we a benefit - not a burden?

Don’t waste the crisis

  • make a list of things to implement when the crisis has passed