By Ebunoluwa Sessou
Assessing the role of the Board of Directors in managing crisis in workplaces was the centre of discourse during an online webinar platform organized by the Women on Boards, WIMBoard, under the Women in Management, Business and Public Service.
With various panellists who bore their thoughts on the theme, “The Role of Boards in Anticipating and Managing Crisis”, emphases were laid on a proactive approach both Boards and Executive Management of various organizations can take to address the crisis.
Speaking, Mrs Ibukun Awosika; Chairman First Bank Nigeria Limited, disclosed that, the role of Boards in anticipating and managing the crisis in the workplace is enormous adding that, the ultimate responsibility and liability lies with the Board to delegate responsibilities to management to run a business on a daily basis.
“We have multiple talents in the Board room in every situation to serve the organization in its best interest. So, in a situation of crisis, you will hope that before the crisis, there will be an emerging trend that will cause the Board to act. And the action of the Board will be centred on ensuring that the management presents a possible plan of action to respond to the situation. And what you can do in an anticipated situation is to have different scenarios that prepare you on how you will respond.
“We must not lose sight of what is important and it is important to stay focus on the plan. The Board must give management the necessary responsibility to act. If there is a disconnect, it is very dangerous for the organization.
“Boards should hold management accountable for crisis management planning to make sure that the organization goes beyond merely having a plan in place; to ensure that top executives are trained in being able to respond to a crisis; and, where appropriate, to consider crisis simulations or wargaming to find the gaps in a crisis plan.
In her part, Mrs Oyeyimika Adeboye; Managing Director, Cadbury Nigeria, said, “Boards are uniquely placed to anticipate and oversee crisis events objectively through the lens of risk management and the strength or weakness of an organization’s crisis preparedness. In many recent high-profile cases, an organization’s management may play a key role in causing or not properly anticipating a threat that could lead to a crisis event.
“The diversity of the Board is very important. It is important to have the Board that is available for advice, direction and support. It is also important to get the perspective of the Board because of the diversities of the Board”.
The General Managing Director, Interswitch, Mr Mitchell Elegbe stated that the Board must challenge management to reassess and adapt its planning, adding that directors can enhance their oversight roles and help their organizations employ the many tools and techniques at their disposal to avert, or at least minimize, the impact of future crisis events.
Deputy Managing Director, Falcon Corporation, Audrey Joe-Ezigbo speaking on coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, she noted that most nations of the world were not prepared. “Board is key in terms of understanding the risk and framework for the company and the plan for emergency or crisis among others. “It is surprising to know that most Boards were not prepared. It is huge learning. We really have to be thinking of the possibility for the global event and therefore, we should always give it a thought”, she added.
Partner & Head of Advisory Services, KPMG Nigeria, Mrs Bisi Lamikanra; added that Boards should be confident that management has a crisis playbook that details on how to respond to a range of events, with clear divisions between what management would do and where the board would be brought in, depending on the nature of the crisis.
“This is a positive development; in doing so, these boards are opening the door to adding significant value and stability to the organizations they oversee”, she noted.