Governance and leadership discussions at the Better Boards Conference

Presentation

The Rise of Technology During the Pandemic – a double edged sword

Vera Visevic


Partner at Mills Oakley

Vera heads up the Sydney Not-for-Profit, Human Rights & Social Impact team at Mills Oakley. Acting for numerous charities, religious and not-for-profit organisations, Vera has close to 30 years of experience in the legal profession.

In the Not-for-Profit sector, Vera focuses on constitutional reviews, mergers, governance and fundraising issues and regularly advises on ACNC and ATO endorsements. Vera has written several academic works, including a chapter within ‘Charity Law’ (2012, 2016 and 2018) published by Thompson Reuters.

Vera sits on numerous charity boards, associations and committees including the ACNC Professional User Group, the Community and Consumer Consultative Group, Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW, Everyday Justice and CatholicCare, Diocese of Parramatta.

The pandemic saw an unprecedented level of digital transformation across all industries. Many Australian charities and NFPs were forced to embrace information and computer technology (ICT) as one of the only ways forward. Maintaining innovative momentum through ICT is crucial for organisations to fuel growth and remain competitive.

Vera’s presentation will uncover how to build a digitally smart board to capitalise on ICT opportunities. Whilst the willingness to embrace ICT in organisations is a positive development, boards must not disregard the implications of doing so. Vera will explore the legal implications that charities and NFPs must consider when embracing technology.

Where technology is an integral part of an organisation, directors’ duties have expanded to include matters in relation to ICT. Most relevantly, a director’s duty to exercise powers with due care and diligence now extends to the use of ICT where poor oversight of such projects can lead to a breach of this duty. Now more than ever, boards need to ensure they have a proper ICT governance framework that governs how ICT can be used effectively to achieve organisational goals. Proper governance allows charities and NFPs to mitigate cybersecurity risks and avoid inadvertent failure to comply with legal responsibilities. Among other things, boards must consider whether an ICT governance framework is visible within the organisation and whether there is effective communication with directors and stakeholders regarding the effectiveness of ICT in supporting and sustaining organisational objectives.

The success of technology in charities and NFPs depends upon the ability of directors to both embrace innovation and ensure proper governance.



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