From the first news of a crisis, all eyes are on the board and management team. The swiftness of communication requires company leaders – including executives and board members- to detect problems early and act on them expediently during times of crisis. The window of time companies have to respond seems to get smaller every day.
In uncertain times, the importance of modern governance is heightened. Modern governance is empowering company leaders with the tools, technology and insights they need to be effective—and in times of crisis, that means organizations need to operate with great visibility, heightened security, and informed decision-making. While events surrounding the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic can seem disorienting, we offer a few grounding best practices—and share several ways to deploy the Diligent tools you already have for crisis communications.
1. Maximize Visibility for Company Leaders
In times of crisis, it’s critical that board members and executives have access to real-time information. In the case of COVID-19, that information could be health updates on the pandemic itself. Or it might be a central repository for boards and executives to access scenario plans, external communications, or supply chain updates in real-time. Don’t forgot that the Diligent Boards application is built for situations like this; it provides a secure environment for critical information exchanges to take place. Additionally, the Diligent team is leveraging its own technology to provide customers with weekly updates on the coronavirus—everything from news coverage to legal guidance to health alerts.
2. Communicate: Empathetically and Often
Among the first steps of crisis response is to identify all relevant stakeholder groups: customers, employees, suppliers, surrounding communities, etc. How is the organization accounting for the safety of each? How is the organization hearing and addressing their concerns? How frequently is the executive team updating each group? How is the board maintaining oversight and providing support to those handling communications? Much preparation goes into coordinating these efforts. Organizations can make use of tools like Secure Meeting Workflow, which allow multiple users with different permission levels to collaborate within one file or workflow—while keeping the information secure until the organization is ready to publish.
3. Prepare the Organization to Work Remotely (If Feasible)
In a global health crisis, organizations must be prepared to make decisions around remote working and travel bans. Shifting even a portion of the company’s workforce to new policies takes preparation. Ensure the communication around policy changes is frequent and gradual; have the employees affected take a series of small steps to prepare their work-from-home settings and ensure their remote technology needs are met. For boards and leadership teams especially, your Diligent tools already offer continuity and security throughout this transition (e.g., Diligent Boards, Messenger, Secure File Share, Secure Meeting Workflow). Ensure company leaders are aligned on how they plan to use these tools and determine which platforms are appropriate for which types of communications.
4. Limit All Sensitive Communication to Secure Platforms
In times of uncertainty, all sensitive communication must be controlled on a secure, encrypted messaging platform. The dangers of unsecured email and the consequences of leaked information are simply too great to leave to chance. Diligent customers can leverage Diligent Messenger, a secure messaging tool designed exactly for this type of sensitive communication. Accessible on your phone, Messenger is essentially an encrypted platform that resembles SMS texting—and it allows organizations to communicate one-on-one or in private group channels. Notifications can be sent out by administrators to alert all relevant stakeholders as events unfold. Above all else, we strongly recommend customers communicate using only secured channels throughout the uncertain times ahead.
As a steward of modern governance, the Diligent team is taking comprehensive measures to ensure our employees, products, and services continue to operate at the highest levels of performance and support as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to evolve. We know that governance software and the resources we provide to our customers are mission critical. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Success and Support Teams, who are available to assist customers with any and all account management requests.