Corporate Governance & Activism

Corporate action in challenging times: Learnings from the corporate response to coronavirus

Coronavirus has shaken our society. The crisis has been described by global leaders as a “state of war” and corporates are being looked at for a response, a sense of direction and action. Technology has fuelled connectivity and communication during this time. With the dependence and further rise of technology as a key means of receiving information, FTI Consulting’s global team of data, digital and analytics experts has been investigating the corporate response to coronavirus. This analysis has not only shone a light on the actions taken but foreshadows how this crisis will have a longer-term impact. So, as we look to the future, how can these learnings be applied to longer-term stability?

What came through is clear: how corporates act now will play a role in their medium-to-longer term success. While each sector presented unique trends within their industry, overall this crisis has provided a moment of reputational redemption for some corporates. There’s anticipation and interest in the roles that these organisations play in our society across audiences, and a newfound appreciation for their responsibilities and purpose has emerged. This introduced several considerations for longer-term planning including opportunities and challenges for future corporate action:

  • New audiences have formed around organisations: In certain sectors – namely Healthcare and Technology – new audiences are emerging, and old audiences are being reshaped as coronavirus acts as a trigger for interest and engagement. How this evolves and whether audiences revert to old habits will be one to watch in the future.
  • Corporate responsibility at the core: The crisis has certainly seen some organisations jump to demonstrate their overall corporate responsibility and purpose. In some cases, this was functional and based on their specific products and services and in others, this spoke more to wider actions taken for society-at-large. Variations in these responses were seen across sectors.
  • Timing is everything: Broadly speaking, corporations that spoke up swiftly and efficiently gained an advantage. In certain sectors, the knock-on effect of their ‘pre-COVID’ reputational challenges shone through. Some sectors, such as Energy, have been silent throughout and will probably continue to be so.
  • Stronger together: In many sectors, the gains of being the first mover were clear but at the same time, support and respect were seen towards the organisations that demonstrated collaboration with others in their fields.
  • Positivity and hope conquer all: Overall sentiment towards all sectors that did respond was positive and, in some cases, even developed to hope. Those that have not responded, such as Energy for obvious reasons, were deemed in a slightly more negative light but we can assume this was based solely on the market circumstances at the time.

Click here to download the corporate response factsheet

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