The uncomfortable boardroom – the new normal?

Harvey Nash / Alumni Board Report

In partnership with London Business School’s Leadership Institute

The Uncomfortable Boardroom

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

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


This year we have supplemented our ongoing insight into the effectiveness of boards, diversity and digital enterprise transformation with an examination of the cause and effect of informal discussions between board members: those conversations that happen more often over coffee, lunch or on the golf course than within the minuted confines of the boardroom.


We also look at how seriously organisations are taking their requirement to report on the financial risks that may arise due to climate change and their awareness about the impact of such changes on the entire supply chain.


With its high-level research on key subject areas and detailed regional analysis for the UK, US, APAC and Nordic regions, we hope you will find this research insightful and thought-provoking.


Christine de Largy
Chair, UK Board Services, Alumni/Harvey Nash

Key themes

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

The impact of digital dominates the board agenda

Digital strategy and cyber security issues are dominating the agenda and boards are addressing their governance standards with more frequent evaluations as scrutiny in their behaviour grows. However nearly a third of boards have never completed an external board evaluation.

Digital enterprise transformation is accelerating

There is an increasing sense of urgency that is removing many of the blocks to digitally enabled transformation within organisations. Yet skills shortages remain a problem for the majority of respondents with 30% saying a lack of technology skills is the biggest hurdle to digitisation.

More talk and more action required on climate change

To their detriment, boards are spending only minimal time discussing ‘good business’ issues such as climate change that could ultimately affect their entire supply chain. More than half of respondents have spent zero hours discussing environmental impact.

Diversity is a way of thinking not a box-ticking exercise

Ensuring you create an environment of acceptance, where diversity and points of difference are celebrated, ultimately stimulates innovation at every level in the business. Just under half of boards are concerned about diversity in the boardroom.

Communication and the effective board

Conflicting opinions in the boardroom are positive if handled correctly. Encouraging disparate viewpoints may well avoid necessitating unproductive offline conversations. 97% of respondents feel comfortable with raising questions of ethics.

International Board Research 2019

We'd value your input on some key research themes including digitally enabled business transformation, diversity of thought, board dynamics and effectiveness. Why not participate in the Harvey Nash / Alumni Board Research 2019

Take part


Speakers, Thought Leaders, Networking and much much more...

London - Nov 13, 2018

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