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Covid-19: Identifying key responsibilities for directors

Companies are faced with an array of different risks with the Covid-19 pandemic and its ripple effects. The Mauritius Institute of Directors, in collaboration with PwC, through the Directors’ Forum, has published its Position Paper 5 on “Covid-19: Key Considerations for Directors”.

This paper aims to provide guidance to Mauritian Boards in identifying key responsibilities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and how to address them. These include strategic leadership actions, possible financial and risk management oversights, tackling human resources and remuneration, IT infrastructure needs, dealing with external auditors, and, last but not least, how to communicate in such circumstances.

It outlines the enhanced roles of top management members, the Board and its Committee members during and after the COVID-19 crisis; Mauritian organizations facing unprecedented challenges and risks such as disrupted supply chains, rising inflation, and unemployment rates, and depreciation of the local currency.

Based on McKinsey & Company’s article in June 2020 on ‘Coronavirus: 15 emerging themes for Boards and executive teams’, there may be a need to take the responsibility to coach and support the Executive team, while also being open to handling disagreements comfortably.

According to the paper, the Directors need to recognize their roles and responsibilities and adopt good governance practices to deal with current and future challenges. Areas to be covered by the Board are building resilience to achieve goals and aspirations following the pandemic, taking cognizance of all stakeholders’ sentiments, and ensuring the right communication channels are in place. And building stronger relationships and maintaining close and regular contact with Financial Service providers, regulators, and the Government.

Directors are also advised to keep up-to-date with the organization’s financial position and evaluate projected financial scenarios on an ongoing basis. In light of rapidly changing situations, they should also keep track of existing risks not associated with COVID-19 and face reality and identify areas that need special attention.