NACD COVID-19 Survey Reveals Top Trends and Governance Challenges Directors Anticipate as We Move to New Normal

WASHINGTON, June 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 21,000 directors, today released the NACD May 2020 COVID-19 Pulse Survey, which revealed the trends and governance challenges that corporate directors expect to tackle over the next three months. Designed to better understand the challenges that boards are facing as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the survey gathered thoughts and opinions from more than 300 directors and built on the insights garnered from the organization’s March COVID-19 poll.

As directors and their organizations expand their focus on employee health and corporate survival to now also preparing for recovery and success in a new normal, several findings emerged:

  • Boards see the changing nature of work as the top post-recovery issue. Looking three months ahead, directors reported that changes to the employee experience are most likely to impact recovery in their organizations. More than half (54%) cited changes in the way work gets done as one of their top three concerns. Another third (32%) ranked accelerating digital transformation as a top priority. There was some variation by sector, with directors from consumer-focused firms ranking major shifts in customer preferences higher, while smaller organizations ranked access to capital and overseeing financial health higher than other factors.
  • Directors see strategy as the top challenge over the next three months. Shaping a post-crisis strategy was the top governance challenge listed by nearly 6 in 10 (60%) of respondents. Many directors are concerned about their ability to understand new risks and their implications. As top challenges, 46% ranked the need to get up to speed on emerging risk dimensions of the crisis, while 49% ranked ensuring the health and safety of staff (49%). Meanwhile, important in-boardroom activities, such as director engagement (8%), board succession planning (5%), and director recruitment and onboarding (4%), have unfortunately been pushed aside.
  • Directors expect to continue more engagement with management. As the need for more frequent communication between boards and management has increased, so has the time commitment for many directors. A plurality of directors and almost a majority (48%) reported that boards are likely to spend more time with management after the crisis than before. In doing so, nearly every board has made use of tools to enable virtual board meetings. This suggests that new, responsive best practices are potentially on the horizon with directors engaging more frequently with management and in new ways.  
  • Boards remain confident in their organizations and management teams. Consistent with findings from our March survey, boards continue to give high marks to their management teams. When asked to grade their CEO’s performance during the crisis, the average grade was an A, with a GPA of 3.8 on a 4-point scale. More than 9 out of 10 (92%) directors reported confidence that their organizations will survive the crisis, and 87% of directors reported that their management teams had an effective playbook for this type of crisis.

Director’s report that their boards should be prepared to answer the following questions in the next three months:

  • What are the key information requirements of our stakeholders to sustain their confidence in the company?
  • How should we redesign our workforce after the crisis?
  • What are the lessons learned from management’s response to the pandemic?
  • What business development opportunities have developed during the pandemic? What are the associated risks? How should we take advantage of a rare opportunity to reposition ourselves in our sector?
  • How can we promote the new leadership capabilities in the c-suite?

The NACD Resource Center, Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis offers board-relevant guidance to help companies confront COVID-19 and mitigate its business impact. NACD updates these practical resources frequently to reflect new developments. Committed to providing the entire governance community with the best available information to understand the COVID-19 pandemic, NACD has opened these resources to the public.

About NACD

The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) empowers more than 21,000 directors to lead with confidence in the boardroom. As the recognized authority on leading boardroom practices, NACD helps boards strengthen investor trust and public confidence by ensuring that today’s directors are well prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. World-class boards join NACD to elevate performance, gain foresight, and instill confidence. Fostering collaboration among directors, investors, and corporate governance stakeholders, NACD has been setting the standard for responsible board leadership for 40 years. To learn more about NACD, visit

Survey Methodology: NACD used a convenience sample of its membership to solicit 306 member responses between May 14 and May 21, 2020. This contains a wide selection of industries that mirrors the NACD membership and the American economy.

Susan Oliver