2020 WCD Thought Leadership Commission

Work has Changed: How Boards Navigate Disruption and Drive Human Capital Transformation

Disruption is a primary concern for today’s boards. Market disruption—such as Amazon displacing physical retail—is simply expected. To further complicate matters, we are beginning to see disruptive undercurrents in the workforce and recognize that this is an equal threat to the long-term sustainability of businesses.

No matter the industry, ownership structure, or mission, what organizations are expecting their employees to do is rapidly changing. How, when, and where the workforce operates is also changing, and for the first time ever, it is comprised of up to five generations, all at various stages of engagement. Yet despite this upheaval, most companies continue to rely on the same hierarchical organizational structure, processes, and leadership models.

The fact is, there have been very few changes in how human capital is managed and compensated even though so much about employees and what they are being asked to do is different. The “attract-retain-motivate” model may no longer be enough to ensure an adequate labor supply and a fit-for-purpose workforce.

  • How can boards help their companies refocus on talent management and eliminate out-of-date methods of organizing and running a business?
  • How can they support the innovative leadership styles that are needed in order to manage ongoing disruption to the talent pool?
  • How do they build supportive corporate cultures when individuals are physically isolated?

So what can the board do? The solution ultimately lies in leadership. You will see in the report, the Commission addresses the board’s role, as well as offers suggestions that management can take on in the short term. The report also provides a quick reference chart covering the key issues: The Changing and Disengaged Workforce, Organizational Structure and Processes, and Leadership, to identify key transformational opportunities, along with recommended actions from the board and management.

WCD Press Release

Directors are recognizing that addressing workplace shifts and human capital transformation must become a priority to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization,” says Susan C. Keating, CEO of WCD.

“Boards have a fiduciary duty to tackle the heightened risk of employee disengagement and unproductivity. This report gives boards a road map when thinking about their human capital and leadership needs over the months and years ahead.”

Now more than ever, we need transformative leaders who can engage a highly diverse workforce in new ways. The compensation committee, with its increasing responsibility for leadership development in addition to rewards and incentives, has a significant role to play in this evolution.”
-David Swinford, President and CEO, Pearl Meyer
When evaluating the next CEO and the pipeline of talent management, elevate those who have the courage to do things differently and the humility to take chances, course-correct, and seek broader input and consensus.”
-Halla Tomasdottir, WCD Thought Leadership Commissioner
The boardrooms that are best equipped to handle organizational disruptions are those that reflect greater social and racial diversity and gender balance.”
-Evelyn Dilsaver, WCD Thought Leadership Commissioner

2020 TLC Commissioners

This year’s distinguished group of commissioners includes highly accomplished directors, leaders in corporate governance, and esteemed members of academia. Their varied experience and perspectives have guided the direction of this report and we greatly appreciate their time and commitment to exploring the future of work.

Kathleen Affeldt
United States

Catherine Allen
United States

Kapila Anand
United States

Susan Angele
United States

Stephen Brown
United States

Cynthia E. Clark
United States

Evelyn Dilsaver
United States

Ceree Eberly
United States

Cynthia Jamison
United States

Susan C. Keating
United States

Claudia Kelly
United States

Jannice Koors
United States

Erin Leymann
United States

Jessica McDougall
United States

Melissa Means
United States

Kevin Mulcahy
United States

Jane Park
United States

Ana Paula Pessoa
Brazil

Lianne Richardson
United States

Aalap Shah
United States

Kelley Steven-Waiss
United States

Mara Swan
United States

Halla Tomasdottir
Iceland

Su-Yen Wong
Singapore

In Memoriam

It is with our deepest sorrow to announce the passing of Carmen Rosa "Toti" Graham, a WCD member who served on this Thought Leadership Commission and who was also the chapter co-chair of WCD Peru. She was the driving force responsible for positioning WCD Perú as a key player in all matters related to corporate governance and board excellence.

Learn More


The 2020 report is the most recent release from the WCD Thought Leadership Commission, whose mission is to advance key boardroom issues beyond theoretical discussion to practical, actionable recommendations. All of our previous reports can be viewed and downloaded below.
  • 2019 TLC Report


  • 2018 TLC Report


  • 2017 TLC Report


  • 2016 TLC Report


  • 2015 TLC Report


  • 2014 TLC Report