The impact of COVID-19 is putting nearly every facet of business to the test. While it is first and foremost a public health emergency, boards have a role in showing leadership and empathy as they steer their organisations through the crisis and the longer term.
In particular, boards face another important test in terms of how they will deal with executive pay. Strong and decisive leadership here could engender support among shareholders and other stakeholders (employees, activists, proxy advisers and wider society), while failure to lead on these issues could have a much more serious long-term impact on corporate reputation and trust.
All these issues are likely to be scrutinised by investors, so it is important for remuneration committees to consider them now. Engaging with directors, senior executives and shareholders early to decide on the appropriate ways forward and detailing the rationale as to how the committee arrived at its decisions will be crucial.
We have highlighted some of the key headline issues that we think boards (and remuneration committees) should be thinking about over the coming weeks and months in relation to reward and incentive plans: ‘COVID-19 - Leadership in executive pay’.