PREDICTING THE UNPREDICTABLE

Alumni / Harvey NashBoard Report

In partnership with London Business School’s Leadership Institute

Predicting the Unpredictable

Welcome to the sixth edition of our International Board Research Report created in partnership with the London Business School’s Leadership Institute.

With its wide-ranging qualitative and quantitative input from chairs and non-executives operating within organisations of all sizes, all ownership models, from all sectors and industry types across the world, this research aims to be the most authoritative global study on the issues that impact effectiveness in the boardroom.

 

This year we continue to examine the topics that are on and off the boardroom agenda as well as how boards navigate the challenges associated with discussing them. Global economic uncertainty continues to be a key driver for organisations and feeds into our topic on operational vs strategic focus. Diversity is important to us both as a topic of research and as a fundamental for benefitting our business and that of our clients. This year we see a degree of what looks to be apathy around the issue and we question what this signifies for other kinds of diversity characteristics.

 

We also look at how boards are managing their responsibilities around climate change given its urgency and importance for stakeholders in all areas. With climate change almost constantly in the headlines, this year we have continued to drill down into how seriously boards are taking their responsibility for its associated risk through conversations, and their ability to influence environmental decisions, and we examine who bears the mantle or responsibility according to our respondents.

 

Key themes

What were the key themes in this year’s report:

Organisational capabilities are an increasing concern

Governance & risk and strategy have been knocked from the top spot on the boardroom agenda. Instead, board members are showing increased concern around their organisational capabilities such as talent and succession, and digital innovation.

Talking differences through

Chairs have a mandate to manage and intervene in interpersonal conflicts, but where simple differences of opinion occur then the preferred method is talking it out in the boardroom.

The evolution of diversity

The long-standing campaign to improve gender diversity appears to be evolving from a genuine goal to a box-ticking exercise. What hope is there for other types of diversity?

Responsibility for climate change is unclear

Climate change discussions appear to be gaining traction in the boardroom but progress is slow. A large proportion of our respondents have no idea who is responsible for this area of risk.

Searching for the boardroom unicorn

The boardroom unicorn with a balance of digital, sector and governance skills is still a much sought-after beast. A quarter of respondents want to see more digital fluency in the boardroom.

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