This year has been one of the most disruptive, enraging, fear-inducing and thought-provoking years on record. The UK entered 2020 with a new government focused on implementing Brexit, yet by the spring the country was in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus coloured the rest of the year and continues to hold the world to ransom. Business and governance has had to adapt. And it has underlined the need for boards to think much about their stakeholders: employees, suppliers and customers. A selection of our top stories from 2020 reflect this.
A core element to pushing business to integrate climate change risks into their strategic thinking has been to persuade them to disclose their thinking. TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) reporting launched in 2017 as a voluntary measure, though with the backing of international leaders. In February this year the UK government indicated it would become mandatory: change was not coming fast enough and investors were calling for more information. British business received a timetable for implementing TCFD in the autumn but the countdown really began at the beginning of the year
One immediate effect of the pandemic was to force board meetings to go virtual as governments enforced lockdowns around the world. Directors and chairs had to adapt and acquire new skills fast.
As the pandemic crisis deepened it became clear that Covid would have a more profound effect than merely pushing board meetings onto Zoom. George Dallas of ICGN looked at the governance priorities.
Rio Tinto’s destruction of the archeology treasure at Juukan Gorge was a story as soon as it happened. This month a report from parliamentarians took aim at the company’s governance.
Board Agenda teamed up with Mazars to research boardroom approaches to risk. Our survey revealed the pandemic was rapidly changing business models and uncovered a worrying lack of attention to other key risks such as climate change.
If governance in 2020 was shaped by the pandemic so too had it prompted some big philosophy questions for corporates. Sandy Pepper offered our readers a philosopher’s answer.
Audit, audit firms and the audit market have been topics of debate and speculation all year as the corporate world waited for signs of reform long promised by the government. But our most popular item proved to be BDO’s rise to be the country’s largest auditor by number of clients. The times seemed to be changing regardless of government intervention.
The November election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was perhaps the biggest global event after the pandemic and climate change. After four years of Donald Trump it was inevitable that their rise to the White House would mean big changes for governance. We looked at the possibilities.
Since Davos at the beginning of the year there has been simmering debate about the emergence of stakeholder governance and what it might it look like. Luca Giacalone’s article explored the topic, catching our readers’ attention with its analysis of shareholder expectations.
While turmoil seemed to grip the world there were more practical issues on the minds of some of our readers. Nada Kakabadse examined the due diligence non-executives should undertake before taking the plunge to join a new board.