What questions should board members ask the leadership of their companies in the weeks to come? Political experts Terry Baxter, who served in three presidential administrations and is the former CEO of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and Alex Castellanos, co-founder of public affairs firm Purple Strategies and current member of CNN’s political analysis team, opined on considerations for the business community in this time of political and societal uncertainty.
Castellanos shared that President-Elect Donald J. Trump is highly aware that his administration will be under pressure to enact policies that produce economic growth. Both panelists agreed that the success of the new administration will also hinge on delivering on regulatory and tax reform, as well as changes to healthcare policy. Ever present in the incoming administration’s actions will be the populist sentiment that propelled the success of the Trump campaign. Castellanos suggested that companies that expect to succeed in this environment should be prepared to tell their story about how they are contributing to American renewal, including domestic job growth.
Attendees took away from the program several key questions that directors should be asking of management—and of each other—in post-election America:
Questions for Management
- Information gathering: How are we informing ourselves about the new administration’s proposed policies, the implementation of those policies, and what those changes might mean for our company?
- Outreach: What is our outreach and engagement plan for advancing our positions on important issues with the new administration?
- New trends: How is our company identifying current trends, disruptors, and business impact issues? How are we identifying key actions that have longer-term or permanent implications?
- Tax policy: What are we doing to prepare for shifts in the tax policy?
- Spending: How are we positioning the company to benefit from proposed spending on infrastructure?
- Growth: What core assumptions about our business’s growth should be reconsidered in light of the changes in government? What possible, emerging growth opportunities are on the horizon that we should be anticipating? Do we have a capture plan in place for these growth opportunities?
- Exposure: What is our exposure to trade policy changes and the fluctuation of the U.S. dollar?
- Supply chain: Do we know which of our critical suppliers could be impacted by a shift to a nationalist trade policy?
- Strategic planning: How are we integrating political risk analysis and assessments into our strategy and risks processes?
- Scenario planning: How robust and effective are our current scenario-planning processes, and how prepared are we to act quickly if needed?
- Technology: What impacts will the new administration have on the growth of technology?
Questions for Fellow Directors
- Compensation: What objectives are our compensation plans setting out for key executives and business units? Are we rewarding the right activities and the right behaviors?
- Board composition: Does our board have the right combination of skills, diversity, and experience to provide effective guidance and oversight to management?
The audience also left with an important piece of advice. Castellanos cautioned that, in a world where we get our news from each other and the President-Elect has an affinity for social media, it is more critical than ever for companies to have a well thought-out corporate social media strategy.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the speakers at this event and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) or the NACD Capital Area Chapter.
Kimberly Simpson is NACD regional director for the Southeast, providing strategic support to NACD chapters in the Capital Area, Atlanta, Florida, the Carolinas, and the Research Triangle. Simpson, a former general counsel, was a U.S. Marshall Memorial Fellow to Europe in 2005.