The NEDonBoard community has been shocked by the decision of Russia to invade Ukraine.
Taking actions as non-executive directors and board members
As NEDs and board members, you are responsible for taking decisive actions that are reflective of the values, principles, and ethics of the organization(s) on which board you serve and that comply with international laws. Here are some key points for your next board meeting:
- Re-appraise your business activity in Russia and any indirect ties that your organisation may have, for example through your investment portfolio, supply chain, bank providers or energy suppliers. Could you be in indirect shape or form act in a way which aids the current illegitimate invasion of Ukraine? Decisive actions are expected because they may be the right things to do and because citizens, employees and customers expect those (and are carefully watching). BP and Shell took important decisions, exiting their Russian operations. More announcements are likely as boards meet and take decisive actions.
- Step up your cyber resilience. Mid-February, the UK assessed that Russia was involved in distributed denial of service (DDoS) incidents that took place in Ukraine. The National Cyber Security Center (a part of GCHQ), who NEDonBoard has partnered with for a few years, is urging all organisations to follow their guidance to improve their resilience.
“Cyber-attacks do not respect geographic boundaries. On a daily basis, businesses in the UK are targeted by ransomware attacks from criminals overseas. And as tensions have risen in Ukraine in recent weeks, we have already seen a number of cyber-attacks occurring”.
Related post: Managing cyber risk to build resilient organisations
Additional resources: NCSC guidance
- Integrate geopolitical risks into decision-making. Geopolitics may have been seen as a supply chain or cyber issue for companies. But the impacts can be wider e.g., weaker balance-sheets, greater investment uncertainty, operational or reputational impacts. It may be time for geopolitical factors to be part of your board discussions.
Related post: Geopolitical complexity, ESG and the role of Boards
- Accelerate the transition to net zero. 60% of Russian exports are oil and gas. Getting off oil and gas will impact Russia’s access to financial resources while also addressing the existential crisis that is climate change. The IPCC report published on 28th February was not much talked about. Nevertheless, the IPCC issued a stark warning.
“Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit”.
Related post: Leveraging TCFD to embed climate into strategy
Good governance, a force for good and peace
NEDonBoard is a purpose-driven organisation with a mission to accelerate sustainability and development. The current situation gives us even more reasons to do what we do, because good governance is a force for good and a force for peace. Our operations align with Goal 16 of the UN SDGs: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Non-executive directors and board members are in a decision-making capacity. Collectively, they (you) can have a tremendous impact on people, organisations and countries for good. In an article Good Governance as a Path to Peace, published in November 2013 by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Conor Seyle says that:
“Peacebuilding policy should focus on supporting good governance — at the state and international level and within civil society and the private sector. […] Good governance is a pathway toward a more peaceful world”.
Those words should empower and inspire you to serve on boards, contribute to positive change and accelerate sustainability and development, for good.
Written by Elise Perraud, NEDonBoard COO