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Crisis prevention has taken on greater urgency for management and boards as corporate crises – often self-inflicted – continue to make headlines. In these situations, the topic of board responsibility quickly moves front and centre, particularly if warning signs went unheeded or corporate culture was to blame – “Where was the board? And could it have done more to prevent the crisis?”

Speaking to senior directors about their experiences we found that building and maintaining the right culture in the business is as much about the way in which we listen to our employees as the way in which we speak to them.

The starting point for boards and management teams in preventing crisis situations is to make sure the fundamentals are in place; such as tone at the top, an ethics and compliance programme, a whistle-blower hotline, employee training, a robust risk management process, etc. And being in place isn’t just about being effective – they need to be visible. Yet, as a number of recent corporate crises have made clear, fundamentals are essential but not sufficient on their own – they must be supported by the right culture.

We had the opportunity to hear from many seasoned directors on what “good” culture looks like in the context of crisis prevention, read our paper ‘The role of culture in crisis prevention’.