The second set of meetings in the World Affairs Council of Atlanta’s Global Strategic Leadership Forum series focused on the new challenges facing the boards of directors of contemporary global companies. Setting the stage for the Forum’s discussions was the recognition of the huge changes that have taken place as a result of globalization in tandem with the world financial crisis and economic slow-down. The premise of the Forum was that the expanding and complex issues facing global companies today require a re-examination of the wide set of risks generated by global expansion and the complicated and dynamic matrix of the regulatory environment. These developments have dramatically impacted the relationship between the board and the chief executive officer as they determine strategic direction for the company – a role that is increasingly becoming a joint responsibility.
The general consensus of the Forum’s participants was that in today’s business environment, a global company board needs to ask itself if it is doing all it can and should to evaluate the complicated new risks facing the company, while ensuring that the goals for growth and profitability remain a critical focus. Complicating this escalating level of risk are the increasingly onerous and complex regulatory frameworks, imposed not only by the United States, but by other sovereign jurisdictions. The Forum participants confirmed that many of these regulations have global reach and the Board of Directors has specific oversight responsibility, thus vastly increasing the amount of information that must be examined at the Board level.