February 23, 2024

ICDM Survey Reveals Imperative for Boards in ASEAN to Realign Priorities Towards More Effective and Sustainable Governance

By nicole

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23, 2024 – (ACN Newswire via SeaPRwire.com) – The Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (“ICDM”) recently concluded a comprehensive survey across Southeast Asia in collaboration with its eight (8) partners under the ASEAN IOD Network that highlights the imperative for boards to sharpen their foresight to assess and steer their organisation’s business model, governance, talent, dynamics, and culture as they position their boards for the future.

The survey of 335 respondents comprising boards and C-Suites management from across the region reiterates the urgency for boards to evaluate their effectiveness and shift their current strategic board priorities to ensure they address the key threats that they expect to be more prominent over the next two (2) years. The four (4) key threats include:

(i) Having the right talent and leadership;

(ii) Diplomacy in managing macro and geopolitical uncertainties;

(iii) Sustainable and effective operational strategy;

(iv) Board-management relationship and dynamics.

Michele Kythe Lim, President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of ICDM emphasised, “Amidst the ongoing economic challenges, we remain steadfast in our commitment to navigating leadership in the dynamic landscape of Southeast Asia. Governance is coming into focus on a more profound level in the wake of heightened stakeholders’ expectations, as evidenced by the many changes taking place on boards around us recently. As leaders, we recognise the pivotal role of talent, the power of effective leadership and the imperative of sustainability in our current environment and that a paradigm shift at the board level is necessary to confront the reality and barriers in their pursuit for growth. This regional survey is part of our hope to collectively transform leadership and drive businesses to greater heights by encouraging them to launch into action and openly address the critical areas in board and corporate governance that will nurture deeper cohesion in organisations.”

Urging boards to cultivate a forward-looking mindset and ingrain a more robust culture to turn risks into growth opportunity, ICDM’s 2024 ASEAN Board Trends Survey identified five (5) critical areas in board governance that require immediate intervention to reinforce board effectiveness and ensure companies are equipped for the challenges of the future. These include:

(i) To Realign Board Agenda and Set Priorities Right: Boards often cling to outdated approaches, looking at things through yesterday’s lens and failing to adapt to changing circumstances. As a result, corporate priorities overlook the key threats and changing environments. Boards must stay informed about current and future business trends while adapting to new threats, risks and opportunities that build their path to the future.

(ii) To Improve Board-Management Relationship and Dynamics: Misaligned priorities between boards and their management were noted throughout the survey, with differing ideas on key organisational priorities and areas that require more attention from the board. While boards place greater importance on business model agility, diversification and transformation, management believe human capital strategy and development should be a priority. Boards and management must conduct more meaningful discussions, realign and agree on priorities as well as expectations of both parties to enhance the working relationship dynamics for increased effectiveness.

(iii) Progressive and Forward-looking Board Architecture and Culture: Management express reservations about the board’s current ability and skillset to steer the company strategically. The existing blend of knowledge, experience, and qualities fall short of supporting evolving business needs in the coming years. Boards must begin cultivating a culture of open dialogue, courage, and candour amongst each other. Nomination and Remuneration Committees (NRC) play a vital role in ensuring the right mix of board members, led by the chairman who plays a pivotal role in fostering a progressive board culture and managing board-management dynamics. 

(iv) Board Effectiveness at Taking Stock: While boards may perceive their performance positively, management highlight a lack of diverse perspectives which hinders insightful discussions and creates blind spots to critical issues. Some respondents felt that their board deliberations do not bring value or enhance decision-making quality, with over half stating that board members rarely express conflicting views. Boards must look internally to assess their value proposition, skills, governance and mindset to effectively catalyse their growth.

(v) Navigating Board Sustainability Challenges: While many acknowledge that sustainability goes beyond mere reporting and some boards are already embracing or planning to adopt sustainable strategies, management remain sceptical about the board’s current knowledge and ability to fulfill its oversight role. While boards recognise that their challenge lies in setting up the right governance with clear performance target measurement, they must also acknowledge the important need to support the human capital function and concerns through talent governance. Health, safety and wellbeing, talent management and succession planning are among top sustainability matters for boards’ attention.

As boards begin to address these critical areas in governance, the key actions they need to take begin with undertaking a formal board effectiveness evaluation encompassing candid, 360-degree assessment. Boards must obtain holistic perspectives to better understand their current landscape, working dynamics amongst themselves and between their management, as well as identify development needs. It is vital that boards reevaluate their composition and remuneration packages at regular intervals and proactively foster strong board-management relationships and dynamics. In realigning organisational priorities through joint strategic planning sessions, boards must practice the art of asking challenging questions for more robust discussions. Organisations must prioritise talent governance and organisational culture to ensure a conducive environment for innovation and productivity, while embracing sustainability agendas authentically, avoiding greenwashing, and embodying authenticity and purpose as leaders are essential for driving organisational success.

In addition to the 2024 ASEAN Board Trends report, ICDM also announced the formation of an ASEAN Directors Registry under the ASEAN IOD Network initiative. Aiming to go fully operational in July, the registry marks a significant stride in fostering global recognition for ASEAN board talent. Recognising the needs of boards with regional perspectives, this initiative aims to actively advocate for enhanced ASEAN representation on the boards of businesses with a presence in the region. With this registry, it seeks to elevate the value proposition for members of ASEAN Institutes of Directors by expanding their access to a broader spectrum of directorship opportunities and give organisations a wider selection of board-ready candidates with international or regional experience.

The survey was conducted in collaboration with partners under the ASEAN IOD Network, which was initiated in 2020 to better serve the board community in the region and beyond. These partners include the Institute of Directors Thailand (IoD Thai), Institute of Corporate Directors, Philippines (ICDPh), Vietnam Institute of Directors (VIOD), Myanmar Institute of Directors (MIoD), Singapore Institute of Directors (SID), Indonesian Institute of Corporate Directors (IICD), Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd and the International Business Chamber of Cambodia (IBC). The survey can be accessed on ICDM’s website here.

About the Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM):

The Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM) is a membership-based organisation whose mandate is to professionalise directorship in Malaysia. As the national institute of directors (IoD), ICDM is committed to providing continuous professional development – empowering boards and directors with forward-thinking mindsets, practical knowledge and essential competencies. Established by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) and supported by Bank Negara Malaysia, Bursa Malaysia and the Capital Market Development Fund (CMDF), ICDM’s goal is to be the leading influence of excellence in governance and to build a robust corporate governance culture in Malaysia. For more information on ICDM, please visit our website at www.icdm.com.my

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