Few of us would have imagined a few years ago the magnitude of the challenges the council would face. Neither is their ability to adapt to a complex environment, in which the greatest certainty is that there are no certainties. But in which its relevance as a guide and guarantor that the company maintains its long-term vision intact, no matter how day-to-day it forces it to make decisions – sometimes even too – agile.
To carry out this governance task, the council has greatly enriched its capabilities. The experience and knowledge that were already part of its essence have been joined by new qualities such as sensitivity, necessary to respond to the growing demands of all interest groups, especially society. Also open-mindedness, since new times require innovative strategies and bold decisions that allow the company to innovate and adapt to a new consumer, to new ways of relating.
This balance between maintaining its essence and betting on a new look is now more crucial than ever in its leadership work, since we are facing a key period; in which the pillars that will drive the growth and competitiveness of the economy are being defined, and decisions are made that will have an impact on future generations.
Sustainability is undoubtedly one of them. The acronym ESG has gone from being not only a matter of reputation but also a factor of growth. A key business element that requires transparent reporting, as required by regulators, investors and society, but also a risk whose impact needs to be measured.
So is digitization, an unstoppable trend in the face of which it is not only necessary to take into account the opportunities and challenges of technology, but also the adaptation of each of the professionals that make up the companies with the aim of ensuring that no one is left behind. . Talent is a differential value, and people must be at the center of decisions.
All this in a context in which business success is no longer only measured in numbers. Financial growth is not, and cannot be, the only goal. The most valuable assets are beginning to be intangible, non-financial information has acquired greater relevance, and the commitment to the societies in which they are present is crucial. Trust is an indispensable attribute, and reputation has a decisive impact on the value of the company.
In short, given this role of accompanying and supervising companies, which is so relevant to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the current environment, the board must decisively handle a delicate balance. The one that oscillates between the short term to respond to the challenges, risks and regulatory requirements, and the long term that supports the purpose and values, the reason for being of each organization. A whole balancing act in times of change.
Hilario Albarracín is president of KPMG in Spain