New Report from WomenCorporateDirectors and Pearl Meyer Calls Boards to Action on Human Capital Management

“Work Has Changed” Examines Workforce Disruption and Offers a Roadmap for Risk Management and Positive Transformation

While most recognize that work is undergoing dramatic upheaval – accelerated on two fronts by the pandemic and increasingly urgent calls for diversity in the workplace – how the workforce is managed and compensated has not kept pace. A new report released today from WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation (WCD) and Pearl Meyer warns of the risks associated with this disconnect and offers a roadmap for boards to help organizations transform their approach to human capital management.

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“Work Has Changed: How Boards Navigate Disruption and Drive Human Capital Transformation” is the latest report from the WCD Thought Leadership Commission and Pearl Meyer. Researched and written with the input of 24 commissioners from leading public corporate boards and governance-focused industry and academia, it will be highlighted today at the WCD Visionary Awards, part of this week’s WCD 2020 Virtual Global Institute. Pearl Meyer will lead a panel discussion with several commissioners at 10am ETSeptember 10, 2020.

“Directors are recognizing that addressing workplace shifts and human capital transformation must become a priority to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization,” says Susan C. Keating, CEO of WCD. “Boards have a fiduciary duty to tackle the heightened risk of employee disengagement and unproductivity. This report gives boards a roadmap when thinking about how to approach their human capital and leadership needs over the months and years ahead.”

“Three key areas have been identified where boards and management can work together to bring needed change: employee engagement, organizational structure and process, and leadership,” said David Swinford, president and CEO of Pearl Meyer. “Now more than ever, we need transformative leaders who can engage a highly diverse workforce in new ways. The compensation committee, with its increasing responsibility for leadership development in addition to rewards and incentives, has a significant role to play in this evolution.”

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Several issues are reframed as transformational opportunities, and each has specific actions for both boards and management teams to undertake:

  • The Changing and Disengaged Workforce: Organizations are asked to create a sense of purpose and help balance work/life demands, build an environment of continuous learning, and actively forecast the workforce skills and characteristics for the future.
  • Outdated Organizational Structure and Processes: Near-term solutions include actively moving away from command-and-control style models toward a more collaborative environment, leveraging the push for flexibility to create a fit-for-purpose workforce, and selectively and strategically deploy technology that builds efficiency.
  • A Stagnant Leadership Profile: Directors and senior managers can renew their commitment to succession planning and leadership development, looking long-term beyond just the C-suite and cultivating a diverse executive talent pool with unique experiences, skills, and attributes necessary to enact business strategy.

The report importantly notes the role of the workforce – that employee expectations of the companies they work for have become stronger and employees have much greater influence. “Boards are thinking about how to respond to these expectations from the long-term perspective,” said Keating. “How do we turn employees’ input into sustainable changes?”

“We’ve outlined some urgent things for directors and management teams to address,” said Swinford. “A silver lining in this especially unusual and uncertain time is the opportunity as leaders to reset our approach to talent management and meet the moment.”

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