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Corporate Governance

Leveraging a Board Portal Amid a Pandemic

As corporate boards work to navigate companies through this unprecedented time, directors could consider leveraging a board portal and digital governance solutions to keep the lines of communications open as they respond to the virus and prepare for the proxy season.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are taking swift action to combat the virus, including reducing office spaces and asking many people to work remotely and avoid crowded settings. As corporate boards work to navigate companies through this unprecedented time, directors could consider leveraging a board portal to keep the lines of communication open as they oversee the company’s response to the virus, while still working through routine business matters, such as preparing for the proxy filing and the annual general meeting, as well as reviewing the CEO and company performance.

“During this pandemic, we’ve escalated our communication. We’re in touch with the board more frequently via the confidential emails and briefings,” said Joan Conley, Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary at Nasdaq, Inc., who uses one of Nasdaq Governance Solutions’ board portals.

“During these unprecedented times, we are focused on starting and ending the week with some level of communication with the board members,” Conley said. “And if, in fact, something goes on in the middle of the week, we're in touch with them.”

Conley has traditionally used the board portal for board meetings and communications, utilizing confidential email capabilities and setting up a document reference section for directors. While Nasdaq’s board has often conducted telephonic board meetings, Conley said that recently, “we’ve upped our game,” using the board portal as a foundation for board meetings, where directors can locate the agenda and material documents for virtual briefings.

Teleconferencing software can also be augmented in alignment with a board portal, enabling corporate secretaries to schedule a “Hollywood Squares”-like board meeting, Conley said. She also suggested extending agendas for virtual meetings to allow for the same level of engagement as an in-person meeting, which she noted requires more on the part of the presenter as well as the board chair.

As the novel coronavirus spreads across the globe, strategic plans are being amended based on the daily developments about new cases, testing data as well as potential cures. Amid the pandemic, the board portal has supported directors and management teams to communicate sensitive plans that are rapidly changing, according to Kaley Karaffa, Director of the Center for Board Excellence, which was recently acquired by Nasdaq.  

“Board portals allow boards and corporate executive teams to be as reactive as necessary, but also to be more proactive in trying to plan for normal business continuity,” said Karaffa. She added that portals extend beyond boardroom material management. “They ensure good communication between the board and management and facilitate existing and necessary time-sensitive processes, such as digitally completing our directors’ and officers’ questionnaires and board assessments, which is helping us maintain focus on good governance, despite the crisis.”

“One way that I have leveraged the portal in recent days has been to approve unplanned capital expenditures for acquisitions of technology for our internal employees and stakeholders so they can work externally,” Karaffa noted. “The portal was a key tool in being able to do that within a number of hours.”

Nasdaq Boardvantage® is an award-winning1 board portal designed with an intuitive interface and multiple layers of security. Boards, committees, and leadership teams can easily access meeting information, approve initiatives, e-sign agreements, participate in meetings remotely, message within the app, share annotations and digitally manage governance matters.

In times of uncertainty, you can be certain of us. Collaborate with security in mind using Nasdaq Boardvantage. Contact us to learn more or schedule a demo.

1 Nasdaq Boardvantage is recognized as a 2019 ICCSO International Service Excellence Award Winner; 2019 American Business Awards Bronze Stevie Winner for Sales & Customer Service; 2018 American Business Awards Gold Stevie Award Winner for Best New Product of the Year, Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Software Customer Service Department of the Year, and Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year; 2018 RiskTech 100 Category Winner for Operational Risk & GRC; and 2018 6th Annual Best in Biz Awards International Winner. 

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