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The Chair, the Board and the Future of Work

Driven by the pandemic, the Economist writes about the re-shaping of the healthcare and the opportunities this presents. While sectors have been affected very unevenly by Covid-19, all are subject to enormous change. Every company and every Board – regardless of sector - is confronted by a once in a lifetime opportunity: to redefine the future of work. This is rich with promise: employees deriving much greater satisfaction from their work and more easily combining the personal and professional without the burden of regular commuting and rigid office hours. But there is also the risk of getting this wrong: building old biases into new policies; misinterpreting what visibility means; stoking mental health pressures. There are no easy answers and the Board clearly has a contribution to make to the heavy lifting that needs to be done: asking the tough questions; thinking ahead, as well as horizon scanning; and – critically – listening to employees. The changing shape of work and the Board’s contribution are firmly on Fidelio’s Agenda. This Board challenge is already having an impact on Board Search and the skills required. It is also considered in Board Evaluation, including recommendations for increasing Board effectiveness. Fidelio’s forthcoming webinar ‘Quota or No Quota? Progress Towards Diversity in UK & German Boardrooms’ will explore the impact that Covid is having on gender diversity in Germany and UK business. We will explore where leading companies are today, as well as desirable outcomes for the future of work, with a highly experienced panel: Dame Alison Carnwath, Audit Committee Chair at BASF SE and Zurich Insurance Group; Tina Kleingarn, Supervisory Board Member at Deutsche Wohnen SE; Dr Hildegard Bison, Board Member at BP Europa SE; Denise Wilson, CEO at Hampton-Alexander Review; and Philine Erfurt Sandhu, Academic Director of the Strategic Competence for Women on Supervisory Boards Certification Programme at the University of Economics and Law Berlin. The future of work and the importance of developing work practices that respect and promote employee wellbeing was also explored in a Fidelio Chair Roundtable with Lord Gus O’Donnell during October’s Chair Roundtable, ‘The Role of the Chair and the Power of Network’. The changing shape of the workplace and how we work is clearly on the Chair’s Agenda. Therefore Fidelio was delighted to host a virtual Chair Roundtable with Hon. Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, and Professor Rosie Gillard, Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, ‘A D&I Primer for Boards in the Age of Covid’. Our Roundtable was joined by Chairs and Committee Chairs from a range of sectors and geographies and we explored the impact of the pandemic including evidence that diversity and inclusion are suffering in the age of "WFH". In the coming weeks, Fidelio will work with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership to produce a short primer with concrete action points for Chairs and Boards who are keen to:

  1. Contribute to a better future of work

  2. Ensure fairness and wellbeing are built into their own company's work practices

  3. Embed diversity and inclusion within their organisation

To view the charts from the Chair Roundtable with Hon. Julia Gillard, please click here.


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Gillian - Karran Cumberlege

Head of

Board Advisory

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