The coronavirus pandemic has brought many board responsibilities into sharp relief but the board’s responsibility to ensure that management appropriately address and respond to human capital risks takes on particular emphasis. While the responsibility to manage risk in general is inarguable, the unique risks to business performance that a worldwide pandemic poses to human capital calls for consideration of an appointment of a board-designated member of management with direct reporting responsibility to the board in whom responsibility is vested for pandemic-related compliance matters. A “Chief Covid Officer,” responsible for ensuring corporate compliance with applicable health and welfare obligations and the resulting safety of employees and consumers, is both an appropriate and desirable method to manage the multi-faceted risk the pandemic poses to corporate entities. While there are several roles that could fill these responsibilities—Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Legal Officer/General Counsel, Chief Operating Officer or even Chief Compliance Officer—the key consideration for the board is identifying the individual with the right training, know-how and good sense to manage the complex and multi-dimensional risk the pandemic poses to the organization. This article focuses on the board’s responsibilities to fulfill its responsibilities to oversee management, and how those responsibilities should or could be carried out.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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