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Risk management in times of crisis

Companies and other organisations face completely new challenges when confronted by unforeseen events like the current pandemic. Risk management helps business leaders gain a structured and documented overview of the current risk situation and supports them in their decision making. An awareness of the risks enables the negative impact of critical incidents to be mitigated, resulting in more security for the company. During any crisis, safeguarding liquidity is a priority and this is something we are certainly observing during the current coronavirus crisis.

Now, more than ever, agility is the basis for a company’s sustainable success. Companies need to be able to respond to instability and extraordinary events but also to innovation and change.

Agility as an accelerator of digital transformation

The coronavirus crisis has given another boost to digital transformation, showing that a modern IT infrastructure, mobile working, an open mindset for e-business, and development of a customer base online are key corporate success factors. Put simply: Digitalisation of processes has emerged as a critical long-term success factor across business areas. Our investments in digital infrastructure have proven their worth for BDO, especially during the acute phase of the pandemic. BDO has long been a proponent of flexible working and already has the technological, cultural and operational infrastructure in place to carry out our business virtually if necessary.

Organisation and labour law issues

There has been a strong focus on the topic of working from home (WFH) in the past year. WFH offers many advantages – but there are also related confidentiality and data protection risks. If relevant for their business, all employers would be well advised to put in place written guidance for their WFH and remote working arrangements. As well as reducing risks, written regulations can also contribute to a company’s attractiveness as an employer.

Short-time work and coronavirus income compensation remain central topics in the context of Covid-19. In our daily business as advisors, we see the layers of uncertainty affecting economy and society, and observe high demand for answers to questions about labour law.

Changes at BDO

Thomas Studhalter took over the lead at BDO as new CEO from 1 January 2021. He succeeds Werner Schiesser, who handed over the reins after ten successful years and at the end of his term of office. Due to limitations on the permissible terms of office, there were two further changes in the Executive Committee of BDO as at 1 January 2021. Markus Helbling, Head of Business Solutions, and Martin Nay, Head of Audit, stepped down from these roles and left the Executive Committee of BDO. Both remain with BDO and continue to support Business Solutions and Audit with their expertise and experience. They are succeeded by Marcel Rohrer as Head of Business Solutions and Beat Rüfenacht as Head of Audit.

Tolerance and appreciation are of key importance for BDO

As people with different backgrounds increasingly work together, diversity is growing in importance for companies. As a company, BDO adopts an open mindset to people, regardless of age, gender, background, religion or sexual orientation. We inspire a sense of togetherness by cultivating an inclusive and diverse work environment where people interact with respect, and without prejudice. Only if everyone can discover their potential and contribute different views and experience will true value - and new ideas - emerge.

“Diversity has many dimensions. So implementing it isn’t a women's topic, nor is it just something for the boss to deal with. Diversity affects all of us.”

Shouldn’t men and women automatically expect equal pay for equal work?

Although nowadays in Switzerland the equal treatment of women and men is a given, this question is still relevant. The Federal Act on Gender Equality (Gender Equality Act) aims to facilitate enforcement of the right under the Swiss Federal Constitution to equal pay for the same work of equal value. However, statistical analyses reveal that a gender pay gap persists even today. The decision to amend the Gender Equality Act introduces government measures to accomplish pay equality between men and women. Employers are therefore required to carry out an internal equal pay analysis. The result of the analysis must be verified externally by a licensed audit firm, employee representative or women's organisation. Let’s hope that equality between men and women in the workplace, which should be automatic, soon becomes a proven reality.

BDO study on the board of directors

BDO’s 2020 study on the board of directors explores various aspects of digitalisation for the first time. Particularly surprising is the finding that most of the board chairmen and chairwomen polled rate digital know-how within the board of directors as generally less important. The proportion of women at board level increased slightly but remains low at 16 percent. Conducted regularly since 1995, the study also examines the composition of the board's bodies and financial compensation.

Are Swiss companies ready for the new data protection requirements?

The complete overhaul of the Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection was approved by Parliament on 25 September 2020, marking the dawn of a new era for Swiss companies. In future, they will be required to document how they process personal data. They will also have to assess the data protection risk. There are also new minimum requirements relating to technical and organisational aspects of data security, as well as increased information and notification duties. A company's management is now personally responsible and liable under criminal law for compliance with the new requirements. Inadequate data protection can be punished by fines of up to CHF 250,000.

Heinz Vogel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BDO

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