The disruption to our personal lives and business world in 2020 is well known. What is less publicized is how boards of directors have addressed what they have faced in a positive, business-building way. It is now clear that if your traditional risk management and business recovery planning efforts did not anticipate major disruption, you were woefully inadequate in preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Chidsey has both depth and breadth to his 25-year career. Currently the CEO of Subway, the privately owned franchiser of Subway sandwich shops, he was formerly the chairman and CEO of Burger King, a public company. He helmed Avis and Budget car rental companies and Jackson Hewitt, a tax-preparation firm.

When and how should directors adjust executive incentive payouts?

Robert Matthews (Matt) Beall III’s promotion to CEO of Beall’s Inc., a retailer based in Bradenton, Fla., was announced in December 2019. Just three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States. Beall, 41, oversaw the temporary closure of the company’s more than 550 stores, which operate in 17 states under the names Beall’s, Beall’s Outlet, Burke’s Outlet, Home Centric and Bunulu. Beall and his wife, Krystel, were caring for their newborn baby as governors lifted stay-at-home orders and Beall’s stores reopened.

Few firms were prepared for the black swan named COVID-19. The ferocity of the attack of this virus surprised even the most vigilant of organizations.


Family-owned Herschend Enterprises, which delayed the openings of its theme parks because of COVID-19, is currently evaluating opening dates for the summer.

In addition to theme park operator Herschend Family Entertainment, the family enterprise includes tour operator Pink Adventure Tours; Herschend Live, owner of the Harlem Globetrotters; and Herschend Entertainment Studios, which produces shows for children.

Private companies moved quickly on short-term finances, but are waiting to make long-term incentive adjustments in the wake of the pandemic.

As private companies face an unprecedented global health crisis caused by a novel coronavirus outbreak, some businesses responded preemptively with early actions to preserve cash, such as freezing both hiring and pay rates, according to a study done at the beginning of business and community shutdowns.

The goal of the plan is to ensure a healthy workforce so your business can continue to operate.

By Karen Masullo

By Sean Murphy and Bill Kanasky Jr., Ph.D.

Directors are digging into the risks and management response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has now taken root in the U.S.