While 2024 has only just begun, it promises major changes for corporate America. Executive boards anticipate a new set of priorities as they grapple with emerging technologies and evolving regulatory standards. What might your team be facing in the coming months? Here are a few of the top priorities of corporate boards for 2024.
Conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East continue to disrupt businesses across the globe. This is felt most strongly by companies with an international presence, though even domestic corporations will likely feel the sting of geopolitical instability.
For instance, the Ukraine conflict has already had an impact on the cost and availability of energy and other natural resources. And such large-scale conflict likewise has a negative impact on the efficiency of the global supply chain.
Corporate boards will therefore need to think strategically about these global concerns. Diversifying your supplier or distribution network can be a way to mitigate the impact of international disruptions. But it will also be important for boards to anticipate risk and build strategies to soften the economic impact caused by challenges overseas.
The speed at which AI is evolving cannot be overstated. Already, generative AI has been proven capable of the following:
- Automating core business processes
- Providing automated customer service
- Creating content for marketing teams
- Improving health care and even creating new drugs
But AI has also been something of a Pandora’s box. While it provides limitless possibilities, it also has the potential to spread inaccurate information, violate privacy, and pose a risk to your intellectual property.
Corporate boards will need to develop clear guidelines for the use of generative AI in both their core business processes and their marketing content. Caution should be used to not simply replicate the strategies of your competitors but instead to ensure that your use of AI aligns with your company’s values, the demands of your industry, and proper sensitivity to your customer base.
Despite the threats posed by evolving cyber criminals, many corporate boards have no definitive cybersecurity strategy. This is a dangerous oversight. Cyberattacks and data breaches can do untold damage to your company — not just in terms of dollars but in the cost of public trust and brand reputation.
Corporate boards can set the tone by implementing secure board portals for their communication and analysis. Becoming more aware of your company’s top risks can also help you devise strategies to address privacy or security concerns.
A solid cybersecurity plan will require two broad areas of focus: prevention and response.
Preventive measures include security software and employee training protocols to minimize the risk of phishing attacks or social engineering scams. Given the inevitability of these attacks, your company should also devise a clear response strategy, outlining areas of responsibility and accountability in the event of an attack.
ESG criteria remain a top priority for governing boards, though the coming year will likely bring an increased need for political sensitivity. Already, companies like Target and Anheuser-Busch have seen backlash to the “social” side of their ESG strategies, prompting other companies to re-evaluate how they communicate their ESG priorities to customers and stakeholders.
Boards will need to clarify the exact nature of their social policies and develop a communication strategy accordingly. In today’s culture, it’s nearly impossible to take any social position without facing some form of backlash, so it may also be helpful to consider ways to respond to any pushback that you may receive.
Beyond this, companies can continue to work hard to pursue sustainability initiatives while meeting regulatory requirements. Tracking data more closely will empower you to adhere to reporting guidelines and keep ESG a top priority.
Many companies continue to struggle to attract and retain top talent. Rather than farming this out to HR staff, boards can take a more proactive approach by adapting company culture to the expectations of today’s job-seekers.
For instance, executive leaders might consider how to implement flexible work hours to attract young professionals. They might also introduce professional development programs that incentivize company loyalty. More than that, however, CEOs should focus on instilling a sense of purpose into their whole organization and ensure that every employee understands how they contribute to that purpose.
This is to say nothing of the challenge of filling leadership positions, such as the CEO. Building up a CEO pipeline should be an ongoing process that seeks to nurture strong leadership candidates and bring them into alignment with the company’s vision. Developing a succession plan can prepare your board for inevitable change as well as provide the smoothest possible transition for your company and its stakeholders.
Navigating Financial Uncertainty
Will 2024 bring a recession or an end to inflation and economic instability? Maybe a bit of both? The path ahead isn’t altogether clear for consumers or corporate boards. Executive leaders should focus on remaining agile and attentive as they navigate a murky financial future.
Boards might devise strategies through scenario planning, considering different possibilities and how the company might respond. This may also be important to communicate to shareholders, providing the assurance they need that your company can navigate risk and remain profitable.
Sound financial discipline will be particularly important. Companies should look for ways to reduce overhead costs by implementing automated technologies or renegotiating supplier contracts. But don’t be so cautious you neglect potential opportunities that can help your company expand. Instead, seek to minimize risk while maintaining a focus on your company’s long-term vision and priorities.
Beyond the Coming Year
Your company will likely face some, if not all, of the above challenges in the coming year. Adapting early can empower your organization to navigate these issues and come out on the other side with greater resilience.
After all, the goal is not to merely endure temporary challenges but to continue growing beyond the coming year. Collaborating as a leadership team will provide you with the resources you need to forge ahead, no matter what the future may bring.