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Buckle up, directors: The year ahead for boards and committees

Explore opportunities and issues facing the board and committee agendas and the chief economist’s views on what matters.

What’s on the agenda for your company’s board and committees in today’s predictably unpredictable business climate?

Well, quite a bit, actually, as we detail in the latest KPMG Directors Quarterly report. Today’s board directors face an expanding, increasingly complex list of must-dos to help guide their companies through times of unprecedented changes and challenges.

Meanwhile, reporting and auditing committees face a complex, often competing mix of new demands like environmental, social, and governance (ESG); crypto; inflation; and more, not to mention the specter of macro financial instability on several fronts.

To stay ahead, business leaders must navigate significant uncertainty, leaning on their boards and committees to rethink their strategies and reset their agendas, no matter how much turbulence. And there are a number of ways boards and committees can help, as we detail in our new report.

The hardest issue that business leaders and economists wrestle with is forecasting in a world with no precedent and so much uncertainty and volatility.

Diane Swonk

KPMG Chief Economist

Nine areas of focus

To take a closer look at the challenges driving transformation within boards, we put together insights and analysis from our latest surveys and conversations with directors. From that, we identified nine key actions boards should be thinking about to deliver on 2023 agendas:


Address geopolitical risks and uncertainty


Build and maintain supply chain resilience


Rethink committee structure and risk oversight responsibilities


Keep ESG a priority while monitoring global regulatory developments


Clarify when the CEO should directly address social issues


Use a holistic approach to governing cybersecurity, data privacy, and AI


Focus on recruiting and retaining talent


Engage with stakeholders


Think strategically about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the boardroom

To stay ahead, leaders must put resilience and business continuity first and react quickly after a crisis. For example, when companies encounter cybersecurity threats, they should be considered an immediate concern, and organizations should be prepared beforehand to combat these attacks with cutting-edge digital strategies. By emphasizing that priority for their companies, boards can ultimately reduce an organization’s vulnerabilities and safeguard against disruptions.

But above all, boards should prioritize their company’s culture and human capital to drive long-term success. And a diverse, resourceful board that will widen perspectives and support company values will be critical to success on the overall talent front as well.

Of the S&P 500 new directors added during 2022 proxy season:


From underrepresented racial/ethnic groups


Are women

Source: Spencer Stuart, 2022 S&P 500 Board Diversity Snapshot, June 2022

The new expectations for committees

There have been a lot of changes over the past year—the Russia-Ukraine war, cyber threats, and supply chain disruptions, to name just a few—that have implications on risk management and oversight.

In particular, audit committees must be prepared for a year full of hurdles. So what should they consider as they move forward with their 2023 agenda? Here are eight takeaways from our discussion with audit committees and business decision-makers over the last year:


Prioritize financial reporting: Take major global events and turmoil over the past year into account during financial reporting.


Clarify the role of the audit committee in relation to ESG risks: Get input from audit committees, as they play an important role within the board, along with the insights of other committees


Focus on leadership and talent: Executing transformation strategies requires strong leaders. Be sure to hire people who are ready to face the challenges of today’s financial landscape.


Maintain a high standard of audit quality: Set the expectation for clear communication between auditors and implement rigorous quality control systems.


Make sure internal audits focus on key risks: Audit plans should be adjusted to meet changing risk and business conditions.


Home in on ethics, compliance, and culture: Establish high ethical and cultural standards to build trust and open communication.


Stay aware of global tax developments: Understand how disruption and uncertainty can affect tax initiatives, especially as tax becomes an increasingly important element of ESG.


Understand the audit committee’s skill set: Self-evaluate and make sure members of the audit committee have the necessary experience, especially as their responsibilities expand.

Right now, it’s also vital that key players in the financial and accounting infrastructure understand how real-time events and regulatory updates affect their reporting. For example, emerging areas like ESG, crypto assets, and digitization are hot topics and will impact a company’s ability to provide useful financial information to stakeholders. That’s why it’s important to keep track of the new and ever-changing themes in the business and risk space.

Looking forward

With so many issues to take into consideration, how can organizations stay on track during the upcoming year? After all, they’ve encountered an unprecedented amount of change in the past year alone, as volatile geopolitical, economic, and regulatory concerns continue to influence board and committee agendas and decisions.

But that’s why it’s essential for directors and committee members to challenge assumptions and strive to deliver expert insights that keep pace with today’s rapid changes.

Explore more

Meet our team

Image of Paul Knopp
Paul Knopp
Chair and CEO, KPMG US
Image of Lisa Massman
Lisa Massman
Principal, Human Capital Advisory Leader, KPMG US

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