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SALZBURG GLOBAL CORPORATE GOVERNANCE FORUM

Upcoming Program

Overview

The outbreak of a major global pandemic has brought the need for corporate resiliency and nimbleness into sharp focus. The crisis has also elevated societal attention to the unequal distribution of economic benefits, power, and access and the need to take collective action with respect to the impending climate crisis.

The 2020 virtual meeting of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum will explore crisis response and leadership addressing what it takes for a business to survive an existential threat, and how companies should tackle both the distinct issues and converging risks around income inequality, COVID-19, climate change and broader issues of systemic inequality.

PROGRAM FORMAT

This online program will consist of four highly interactive modules that facilitate participation from different time zones. We see these four sessions as cumulative discussions and invite all participants to join the full program consisting of two sessions each day on October 9 and 10. In exceptional cases where participants are only able to make one or more sessions, they are invited to do so.

Discussions will take place in plenary and small breakout groups.  As always, we will adhere to the Chatham House Rule in order to allow for candid and open exchange of ideas. 

Participation in this program is by invitation only to ensure we know who all of the participants are.

KEY QUESTIONS

  1. What does it take for a business to survive an existential threat? 
  2. Shared prosperity:  What is the role of the compensation committee in addressing income inequality?
  3. Are companies prepared to handle the converging risks of COVID-19 and climate change? 
  4. How should boards be addressing Black Lives Matter and broader issues of systemic inequality?

PARTICIPANT PROFILE

The Forum is primarily intended to benefit directors and principals of corporations organized and operating in various jurisdictions who want an off-the-record opportunity to explore and address some of the greatest challenges facing them as directors in the coming decade. The aim is to help them return to their boardrooms with new ideas which they can implement, and with new partnerships and insights, so that they can become thought leaders and change makers for the coming decades.

Within the overall group, directors will be supplemented by additional voices representing other constituents, based on their relevance to the topic and ability to present constructive but divergent views. These will include senior managers; judges, regulators, and policymakers; lawyers; thought leaders and academics; investors; and representatives of key civil society interest groups. 

Since its inauguration in 2015, the Forum has welcomed participants from 25 countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

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PROGRAM DETAILS
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Session 1 - Friday October 9 2:00 pm CEST

What does it take for a business to survive an existential threat? 

We begin the forum with a deep dive into one company’s response to the pandemic and how the board navigated the need for a rapid strategic shift.

Together, we will discuss: What response did the COVID-19 pandemic require and was it different from other business transformations?  How and when should management involve the board?  How can boards play an effective role in addressing a threat that requires transformational change?  What skills and tools does a board need to make a difference? 

As is customary, background reading will be provided to participants in advance. 

Session 2 - Friday October 9 5:00 pm CEST

Shared prosperity:  What is the role of the compensation committee in addressing income inequality?

Income inequality, and in particular, workforce compensation has become a flash point in the current crisis.   One of the crucial functions of a board is to determine and set competitive pay packages to attract and retain top key executives. This session will ask what role the board compensation committee should play in ensuring fair compensation for all employees.

Together, we will ask: Should compensation committees provide oversight over all levels of workforce compensation?  Should they be ensuring that all workers are fairly compensated for their contributions to value creation? What should role should they play in the case of outsourced or supplier workers? 

As is customary, background reading will be provided to participants in advance. 

Session 3 - Saturday October 10 2:00 pm CEST

Are companies prepared to handle the converging risks of COVID-19 and climate change? 

 There is now widespread acceptance that climate change presents both physical and transition risks to business and that it represents a systemic risk to financial markets that affects all businesses irrespective of their industry or geography.

This session asks: How has the pandemic changed the risk conversation in the boardroom?  Is COVID-19 accelerating our awareness of the need to be prepared for climate change or could it forestall corporate action?  What measures can drive corporate accountability for addressing systemic societal risks?   

As is customary, background reading will be provided to participants in advance. 

Session 4 - Saturday October 10 5:00 pm CEST

How should boards be addressing Black Lives Matter and broader issues of systemic inequality?

 Whether prompted by their own convictions, experiencing pressure from customers and employees, grappling with new expectations for disclosure, or swayed by repeated studies demonstrating that diversity and inclusion is beneficial and leads to better decision-making; companies are recognizing the need to address systemic inequality and diversify their leadership teams and their boards. But they will need to do more than attract female candidates or those that identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour.  They must also address systemic inequality and foster more inclusive conversations and decision-making processes. 

In this final conversation, we will ask: What is the role for the board in addressing systemic inequality among their own ranks and in their leadership teams? How can they help to establish and reinforce a culture that embraces diverse insights and ensures they are incorporated into corporate decision-making? What can boards do to mentor and champion future directors and future executives from diverse backgrounds? Is it important for boards to make a public commitment to combatting systemic inequities?  Should they be reporting on their progress?

As is customary, background reading will be provided to participants in advance.