Views from the boardroom: 2021 pulse survey

Views from the boardroom: 2021 pulse survey

Our survey findings point to an increased focus on stakeholders, the urgency of climate risk, the strategic implications of cybersecurity and data governance, and a sharp spotlight on leadership.


It’s clear that 2021 will be about refining—if not fundamentally rethinking—strategic planning and risk management. While perhaps not surprising, this overarching takeaway from polling1 at our 2021 KPMG Board Leadership Conference is no doubt eye-opening in its implications for board oversight and leadership.

In this period of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty—including the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus and the impact of accelerating megatrends on the post-COVID new normal—navigating the future will require a sharp focus on near-term and longer-term strategy and risk (no small undertaking in normal times). And robust scenario planning will be essential.

Among the key takeaways:

  • The shift toward stakeholders, ESG, and long-term value creation is clear and dramatic.
  • The focus on climate risk by companies and boards appears to be falling short of investor expectations.
  • Cybersecurity, data privacy, and data governance are the top global governance risks for companies in 2021.
  • The pressure—and spotlight—on CEO and corporate leadership is intensifying.
  • The Biden administration’s policy initiatives will be a key area of focus in the near-term.



Reflects survey responses from approximately 200 corporate directors attending the KPMG Board Leadership Conference, January 12–13, 2021.

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