The ongoing global Coronavirus pandemic threatens to wreak an enduring and deleterious havoc on Ghanaian businesses and economy. The prognosis of both global and national economic indicators is even direr thereby compelling practical reflections on the way out of the situation and suggesting effective tools for adjustments. It was in recognition of these unusual times that the Institute of Directors-Ghana (IoD-Gh) invited a core team of board chairs to undertake a situational analysis of the present predicament within the context of Ghanaian businesses.
The discussion which was chaired by Mr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi made the following recommendations for the urgent consideration of the Ghanaian business community;
- Local production has become imperative and businesses should look at ways to replace imports with locally sourced goods.
- Businesses must be focused on short-term survival strategies till September 2020, allowing another eighteen (18) months for the dust to settle whilst keeping tabs on global reactions.
- Businesses should develop immunity through strategic capacity development for the new normal till situations ease. This must be coupled with a cultural shift, mindset change, behavioral change and a robust change management process including effective communication with major stakeholders as an imperative if businesses must survive. Employers should develop good relationships with their employees and give employees information on the actual status of the business to avoid unreasonable demands leading to minimizing the risk of layoffs. Businesses should seek labor experts on account of the high potential for future redundancies and layoffs. There must be professionalism in dealing with the psychological effects on both internal and external stakeholders.
- Businesses should begin to consider a broader range of skills in candidates who desire to sit on boards. Current board members must also be trained. Training content must be informed by sector specific business continuity plans, periodic reviews of which will also address both present and future gaps including underlying risks and unexpected disruptions.
- Businesses must bear in mind that the various projections for the development of a vaccine for the Corona virus are uncertain, drawing lessons from previous outbreaks like HIV AIDS, Ebola, SARS, MERS, TB etc. This calls for adaptability regarding business plans, creation of operational environments with minimal contacts, plan for all types of risks bearing in mind the effects of depreciation of demand and the way forward.
- Businesses should uphold high standards in health and safety protocols starting from the board. This may include reducing to the barest minimum board member contacts on account of the inherent danger of exposure, reduction in routine and regular board physical meetings and considerations to new approaches to conversations to factor in procedural arrangements.
- Businesses should conduct COVID-19 impact assessments on their sectors and operations, document strategic mitigation and survival methodologies and ensure sustainable implementation.
- Board agenda should begin to change considerably from the traditional pathways with a keen focus on business robustness and sustainability with risk management as a very critical ingredient.
IoD-Gh considers these positions as strategically relevant to the Ghanaian business survival and growth in this era of COVID-19 pandemic.
This engagement is the first in a series of planned interactions among Chairs of Boards.
The Institute of Directors-Ghana (IoD-Gh) is a professional institution, which was registered in 1999 to promote the culture of good corporate governance through training, consultancy, research, and advocacy. Its mandate is to advance and institutionalise the culture of sound corporate governance and competent leadership in Ghana.