Board Membership 101: Risk Management

Decades ago, the notion of “risk management” boiled down to the simple act of buying insurance. These days, however, board members are expected to be much more involved in overseeing and evaluating their company’s level of risk.
Board Membership 101: Risk Management

According to PwC, risk management includes “the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks and the application of resources to minimize, control, and mitigate the impact of unfortunate events on a business.

It is the job of a board to oversee that their management teams have adequate risk management policies and procedures in place.”

Overseeing risk isn’t a job that falls solely on outside directors, though. According to the Harvard Law School Forum, internal executives are expected to handle the day-to-day risks of their business operations, but directors should, “through their risk oversight role, satisfy themselves that the risk management policies and procedures designed and implemented by the company’s senior executives and risk managers are consistent with the company’s strategy and risk appetite.”

In other words, it’s the job of the board to ensure that the CEO and senior executives are completely engaged in systematic risk management behaviors.
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Board Membership 101: The Role of a Board of Directors

Present day corporate directors are faced with increasing responsibilities, expectations, and risks. Over the last twenty years, government standards for board oversight have grown more stringent than ever as the role of a board of directors evolves.

Role of the Board

But why exactly do boards of directors exist, and what is the role of a board of directors? Ultimately, boards exist to provide strategic oversight for a company and to protect shareholders’ financial interests.

In order to accomplish those goals, individuals who wish to serve on a board must be willing to take on the responsibilities expected of a director.

Below, you’ll find eight factors that outline the role of a board of directors.

  1. Provide strategic guidance.

Literally, board members are expected to provide the vision, mission, and goals for an organization. Metaphorically, they’re also responsible for the “big picture” vision for the company: where is it currently headed? Where does the company want to go from here?
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Cyber Security Becomes a Boardroom Priority

Data breaches from cyber attacks have wreaked havoc on major industries in recent years. Prominent companies like Target, Anthem, Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase, and EBay have all been affected by targeted attacks. These attacks, which typically put individuals’ private identification numbers and payment methods in jeopardy, come at a great cost to corporations.
Internet security concept open red padlock virus or unsecured with threat of hacking

The Ponemon Institute found that, on average, each individual data loss costs a company approximately $154. Multiply that number by 83 million users, and JPMorgan Chase’s recent loss totaled in at around a staggering 12.78 billion dollars—and that’s just a rough estimate; the number is likely higher.

Obviously, these high-profile hacks and breaches have pushed cyber security to the forefront of board members’ concerns. According to PWC’s most recent Corporate Directors Survey, board members are becoming more engaged with IT strategy—namely cyber security risks.

The study states, “83% of directors describe themselves as at least ‘moderately’ engaged with overseeing the risk of cyber attacks.”
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