Global Network of Director Institutes Virtual Conference

Monday, 20 June 2022

Christopher Niesche photo
Christopher Niesche

    The AICD will take part in a July corporate governance virtual conference hosted by the Global Network of Director Institutes (GNDI), which takes place against a backdrop of growing uncertainty and accelerated change.

    The Global Network of Directors Institutes (GNDI) conference will be held online over 24 hours on 13–14 July, canvassing topics such as cybercrime, ESG, governance and innovation, and strategy.

    “We’re talking to our director communities and I’m seeing a lot of similarities around the world in terms of the big issues directors are looking at,” says GNDI chair Rahul Bhardwaj, who is also president and CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors in Canada. “They’re still in the framework of having oversight of culture, strategy and risk in an organisation, but there’s an accelerated uncertainty.”

    The GNDI membership comprises 21 director organisations representing about 150,000 directors and governance professionals worldwide. Now in its 10th year, its conferences offer directors the opportunity to share similarities, differences and best practices. Among its members are the AICD, along with organisations from Argentina, Europe, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam, the US and UK.

    The pre-COVID-19 issues of ESG, productivity and innovation, and cybersecurity, among others, have been joined by the headwinds of rising inflation, supply chain uncertainties, return to work and an uncertain geopolitical environment. “If you think things are fast now, this is the slowest it’s ever going to be,” says Bhardwaj.

    This year’s conference will feature a keynote address from UK economist Sir John Kay CBE. LinkedIn president and CEO Shmuel Ben-Tovim will also discuss the rise of fintech and its impact on governance in a post-pandemic world.

    “A lot of companies and countries are dealing with productivity issues — and innovation is a very big part of that discussion,” says Bhardwaj. “How do boards do their oversight of culture strategy and risk? How do they start to position their company strategically to enhance their corporate performance at a time when the very notion of corporate performance is evolving and changing?”

    Graeme Codrington, futurist At TomorrowToday Global, will consider how dynamic organisations can strategically prepare for the future world of work, while Harry Korine, adjunct professor of strategy at London Business School, will outline how to enable governance and strategy to create sustainable organisations.

    ESG and diversity

    The conference will aim to provoke directors’ thinking on what ESG means and how boards can balance it properly with their other responsibilities. Shai Ganu, a council member of the Singapore Institute of Directors and global leader of Willis Towers Watson’s executive compensation and governance practice, and Alejandra Naughton, CFO at Argentine financial services company Grupo Supervielle, will outline how directors can effectively embed ESG in the boardroom. Boards are considering what ESG means for them and how they can incorporate it into their decision-making and processes.

    Bhardwaj says much of the impetus for ESG is from the financial services sector, which wants to understand the risk profile of organisations they’re funding, with climate risk featuring prominently. On the social aspects of ESG, the Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movements have featured prominently in North America.

    In terms of governance, issues range from say on pay and compensation and board diversity. For some directors, diversity is a social equity issue, while for others, it is a risk issue, with diverse perspectives minimising the risk of groupthink.

    Lisiane Lemos, diversity, equity and inclusion program manager for recruiting at Google in Latin America, will discuss the impact of diversity and inclusion in the boardroom, while another session will outline how to build smarter organisations through diversity and inclusion.


    Cyber risk will also feature prominently. Bhardwaj notes cyber comes with both risk and opportunity. “The opportunity to become a digital disruptor can be quite alluring strategically, but, boy, there’s quite a risk there, too,” he says. “This has enormous potential downside risks for organisations. Depending on what it is, it can completely freeze you. This could erode value for all stakeholders and paralyse companies.”

    The digital world is evolving so quickly that directors need to know the questions to ask and ensure they have the right people around the board table to provide proper oversight. They also need to have a direct line to the CIO. Interpol director of cybercrime, Craig Jones, will outline what boards can expect next, while a separate panel session will discuss how directors can be empowered to oversee the threats the digital age has exposed.

    The conference takes place against the backdrop of the ongoing debate around stakeholder capitalism. After making its landmark statement on the role of the corporation in 2019, the US Business Roundtable is retreating somewhat back to the orthodox perspective of corporate governance rooted more in shareholder value creation, says Bhardwaj. He added that the European director community has a much broader lens on the role of the corporation, while Canada sits in the middle.

    Register here for the free GNDI Virtual Conference 2022. It will be held online over 24 hours on 13–14 July.

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