Over the past few months, ICICI Bank’s board has repeatedly let go opportunities to showcase its decisiveness. But, all is not lost yet: the board can still bounce back from its defensive stance through constructive action and meaningful dialogue with stakeholders.
Controversies bring out the best and the worst, and corporate India has recently had its fair share. Such situations test boards at several levels: at their ability to tightly influence the narrative and to manage communication with stakeholders about assessment and / or mitigation measures, and provide the requisite guidance, to ensure decisions are in the best interest of the company. For ICICI Bank’s board there are learnings.
The board must own the narrative
Boards must maintain distance with the executive
Listed companies’ boards must display independence from the parent
ICICI Bank’s board has a long way to go before the controversy rests.
The appointment of its chairman is expected before the end of the month. It will be a shame if the decision assumes a life of its own.
The board has not started on its best foot and remains enmeshed in tangles that it has tied itself into. But there is room for the board to pull back and regain its credibility – by taking tangible measures that will assuage the market’s concerns, by communicating in a more assertive and meaningful manner. If ICICI Bank’s board does not change its tack, its mis-steps will smear the bank’s reputation and legacy for longer than the current controversy.
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