The Essential Checklist for Canadian Boards for a Strategic 2020

In 2020, we won’t just be entering a new year, but a new decade. When your board is working on its strategy for 2020, it should take the long view to position your company or nonprofit with a future-ready strategy that will look ahead for the next ten years. Here is a checklist of some key items to ensure that your board is starting the year – and the decade – on the right track.

The Essential Checklist for Canadian Boards for a Strategic 2020

The Proper Deployment of Automation and AI

Even the smallest business is at risk of not being ahead of its competitors if it is not taking advantage of AI and automation. Whether it is marketing automation or adopting AI for large-scale basic tasks, the board’s role is to make sure that the company isn’t just jumping on the latest bandwagon and adopting for the sake of doing so. The board also has a role to play in the ethical deployment of AI. According to Gartner, 24% of Canadian CIOs intended to increase spending on AI in 2019, and Canadian organizations will collectively receive $36 billion of economic benefits from AI by the end of 2019. We have more to say about that here.

Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

While adopting and ensuring you are getting the right metrics for a CSR program is a large task, it is necessary for several reasons. Environment, social & corporate governance (ES&G) is an investment strategy that has been successfully being followed by investors for a number of years. Investors and potential employees are now looking very closely at sustainability and CSR initiatives before they invest in or work for a company. If you do not yet have a CSR program in place or want to audit the one you already have, the Government of Canada has excellent resources for doing so.

Ensure New And Upcoming Data Privacy Regulations Are Being Followed

There have been a number of initiatives in Canada and globally which affect how your business should be storing and securing data. We have a comprehensive list here, including the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which comes into force January 1, 2020. Ensuring that your data storage and security policies meet every regulation which could potentially apply should be a big agenda item for 2020, as the potential risk exposure for your company is massive under these new regulations. The CCPA imposes fines of $2500 per violation and the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can impose fines of up to 10 million Euros or 2 percent of the company’s global annual turnover of the previous financial year. Both regulations impose larger fines for successive violations.

Adopt And Implement The Right Analytics

Have a look at any areas that are lacking in analytics in your organization. The board cannot make informed decisions without data, and anything can be tracked with the technology available to us now. For example, if your firm routinely sells multi-million-dollar hardware packages, there may be a large cost of acquisition in terms of flying out sales reps and wooing clients that may not make sense if you are only making a single-digit margin on that sale. Once you know your margin, you can work out a ceiling for the cost of acquisition and require sales reps to ask for permission to go over that cost. On a macro level, you should be able to get an instant answer to questions about spending in a particular department. If you can’t, it is time to implement proper reporting and analytics so that you can.

Diversity Disclosure Requirements

If your board does not yet have a succession plan that includes appointing women and other minority groups as board members, it should. At the very least, it needs one – or needs to update existing ones –  to comply with new diversity disclosure requirements that will be required of public companies that are incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act. These requirements are in effect January 1, 2020. Succession planning for the board is a different matter; this article from Osler has some excellent tips for building a succession planning pipeline which encourages board diversity.

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