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Boards and non-executive directors (NEDs) have a key role to play in helping organisations build more diverse and inclusive environments and workforces that are more representative of society. NEDs, chairs and nominations committees also have the power and influence to increase the number of under-represented groups in the boardroom, including professionals from BAME backgrounds.

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REUTERS | People run past Tower Bridge in the early morning autumnal sunshine, in London, Britain, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson - RC129ACEEA00

There are reasons to be cheerful both sides of the Atlantic this 4th of July. American friends will be enjoying Independence Day celebrations while the UK will be enjoying a bit more of their own independence with the further easing of lockdown restrictions… perhaps most excitingly, the long-awaited reopening of our beloved pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. Is anyone else fed up of their own cooking and desperate for a cold pint?

The UK Prime Minister’s announcement that parts of the hospitality sector (and parts of other sectors like hotels/accommodation and personal care) can reopen on 4 July will undoubtedly have brought a huge sigh of relief to landlords, restauranteurs and hoteliers. But it has left them with hefty to-do lists before they can safely reopen. Continue reading

REUTERS | An Atlantic Puffin is seen among the daisies on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain July 16, 2019. Picture taken July 16, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden - RC17F20A9AE0

Many businesses will benefit from the further relaxation of the lockdown restrictions in England that will take effect from 4 July 2020. From 1 July 2020 employers can also bring furloughed employees back to work while still being able to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in relation to hours not worked. Brexit-wise, progress in the negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship remains limited. The UK government has confirmed that it will not extend the transition period, which ends at 11.00 pm (UK time) on 30 June 2020.

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REUTERS | Tulips bloom in Bryant Park in New York City, U.S., April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RC15C0A16600

Boards need to take steps to ensure that their organisations are equipped to address the risks, challenges and opportunities that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic. They should re-consider their board composition, review their succession plans and reflect on the skills and expertise that have been missing or need strengthening.

Non-executive directors (NEDs) can play a crucial role in supporting the executive team during these turbulent times by guiding and coaching the senior management team, and identifying priorities.

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REUTERS | Ricardo Moraes

The last few months have been difficult, but they have often brought out the best in us: thousands of people signing up to be GoodSAM NHS volunteers, neighbours offering to do each other’s shopping, Captain Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts and the weekly #clapforcarers have shown just how much kindness matters in a crisis.

Positive connections and interactions with people are one of the greatest predictors of our happiness. Our nervous systems respond to kindness and helping other people and connecting with them creates feelings of pleasure, safety and warmth in our brains. Humans have evolved to behave in ways that promote the survival of our species, and kindness and looking out for others have been crucial. From around 18 months old young children demonstrate an instinct to be kind, for example, by picking something up someone has dropped or hugging or kissing someone who looks sad.

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On 1 June 2020, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) updated its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs guidance. This guidance is used by DOJ prosecutors in assessing the adequacy and effectiveness of corporate compliance programmes, providing a window for compliance officers into the ever-developing standards expected of the programmes they create and manage.

The updated guidance retains much of the previous text from April 2019, with the new elements reflecting the greater dynamism now expected. Key messages from this update are that programmes must be ‘adequately resourced and empowered to function effectively’ – this meaning that the DOJ will look beyond the programme on paper to ‘how’ it functions. Also, that there should be compliance of culture ‘at all levels of the company’.

Even if the US guidance does not apply directly to your business, good practice lessons can be taken from it in benchmarking and updating your own programme.

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REUTERS | People gather at a popular viewpoint in front of the Moscow International Business Center also known as "Moskva-City" during sunset in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RTX2EY0L

I grew up in the old Soviet Union and for me, as for many other Soviet citizens, the three Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) were a strange island of relative liberalism in the USSR. They had medieval towns, signs in Latin alphabet letters, cosy cafes serving real coffee, glossy magazines and far greater numbers of young people wearing jeans. Locally manufactured magnetic tape-recorders and cassette-players, though highly desirable, were often unattainable for most Soviet households as they were regarded as items of “non first-necessity”.

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At the time I wrote the Spring agenda piece COVID-19 was still a rather a remote and abstract force. It’s no understatement to say the whole world has changed since then as the pandemic has ravaged healthcare systems and economies across the globe. This includes the place in the world occupied by data protection, privacy and cyber security. Continue reading

REUTERS | Amit Dave

Legal tech has undoubtedly proved its value in recent years, helping law firms to become more efficient, cost-effective and agile, and also realise the benefits of advances such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, big data and automation. But what role can a law firm play when an in-house team is in the process of considering, choosing, implementing and finally using legal tech?

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REUTERS | Luke MacGregor

The government’s publication of its COVID-19 recovery strategy, together with guidance on working safely during the pandemic, has at least provided business with a starting point for planning a return to work. However, companies in many industry sectors remain unsure when and how they will be back in business. Brexit has been understandably overshadowed recently but in-house lawyers should also track the negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship as a no-deal Brexit remains a possibility.

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