Responsibilities of the Board of Directors for Risk Management

The task of adequately addressing risk has never been easy. The recent peak in digitalization and remote governance has made it more difficult. Below we look at how boards of directors mitigate risk and unveil some risk management strategies.

What is the board’s role in risk management?

Boards define strategies, and strategies always involve risk. Risk management board practices may vary from one organization to another, but the end goal is the same. Risk has to be:

  • Recognized
  • Acknowledged
  • Handled 

Today we look at the risk management board responsibilities as it applies to cybersecurity and present ways of dealing the risks.

Escalated cybersecurity risks

Organizations worldwide continue to shift towards digital communication and data storage. On the one hand, going remote saves time and money, optimizes the decision-making process, and sets the company on a faster track to forward-looking operations.

However, at the same time, the risk of sensitive information leaks and data breaches is higher than ever. 

When it comes to virtual governance, the best board of directors risk management practices include:

  • Using trustworthy board software for governance. The productive work process inside a virtual boardroom builds off two fundamental principles: confidentiality and engagement. Experienced board governance software providers keep these factors in mind when developing their products.
  • Restricting access to vital information. Before opening the digital boardroom to directors, it is imperative to make sure information access rights are distributed according to role and need-to-know basis.
  • Choosing reliable software and hardware. While boardroom software is the central tool, it will work with other instruments, such as operating systems and digital devices. Therefore, part of the risk management board responsibility is evaluating the tools they will use to access and use in the boardroom.

A board’s risk management responsibilities

The most straightforward way to estimate and allocate the responsibilities of the board of directors for risk management is to deal with each threat factor in five stages:

1. Assess

The board has to identify the risks in each area of the company’s operation: financial, legal, fiduciary, and so on. While not all board members will have a sufficient amount of expertise in each matter, everyone must clearly understand the possible consequences of taking on risk.

In the case of cybersecurity risks, IT departments have too much on their plate. The board has to make sure that IT receives the right support and resources for its operation.

2. Respond

Next, the board delegates risk management to respective departments. In risk management, board of directors remains responsible, regardless of who is handling the case.

When board members serve on department committees, their role is more than observational. In such cases, the board has more insight into the execution of established procedures.

3. Control

Whether or not board members serve on committees, it is the board’s job to oversee the process of risk handling and to implement strategy adjustments, if necessary.

The board of directors sets an example for how everyone in the organization acts. This means a significant component of supervising managers and executives is guaranteeing board compliance and transparency.

4. Communicate

Clear and active communication at each step of the way is also one of the board of directors’ risk management responsibilities. Additionally, all risk-management-related decisions and activities have to be documented and transmitted to individuals in charge.

5. Analyze

At least once a year, the board needs to look back at risk-handling practices in place, consider input from the directors and departmental delegates, and modify the strategy.

The risk management board analysis serves as both the guideline for further actions and as an evaluation of the board’s effectiveness.