The Top Risks for 2023: A Global View

The global survey of C-level executives and directors, focused on macroeconomic, strategic and operational risks, highlights the influence of the economy, people and culture issues, supply chain risks, and technology impacts on the 2023 risk landscape. The survey was conducted online in the September — October 2022 time frame to capture perspectives on 38 risks on the minds of business leaders as they looked forward to 2023.

In the list below, we rank the 10 highest-rated global risk themes in order of priority.

Top Risks for 2023


Our latest issue of Board Perspectives provides key takeaways from the survey. Following is a brief summary of several takeaways:

Overall, 2023 is viewed as the riskiest year in more than a decade. The 2023 risk environment is rated at the highest noted in the 11 years we have conducted this survey.

People and culture are at the top of the agenda. Finding and keeping talent is THE top risk. Rising labor costs are a significant concern. Resistance to change is an escalating issue requiring attention. The need to upskill and reskill remains a near-term priority. And culture has increased in significance relative to other risks.

Economic issues remain significant. The uncertainty over central bank policies amid persistent inflation, rising labor costs and supply chain disruptions, along with the specter of a possible global recession on the horizon, contribute to clouded perceptions regarding the economy — both now and in the future.

Supply chain issues are elevated near term. Uncertainty surrounding the viability of key suppliers and energy sources, unpredictable shipping and distribution logistical issues, and concerns over price stability in the supply chain ecosystem are impacting the ability to deliver products or services at acceptable margins.

Cybersecurity and data privacy remain significant priorities. The scores for these two risks increased year over year compared to our prior year results for 2022, indicating that they remain critical concerns for the board and C-suite.

The largest risk increases tell a story of a changing world. Looking out 12 months, the five largest year-over-year increases are interest rate risk, geopolitical shifts and regional conflicts, shareholder activist risk pursuant to performance shortfalls (including with respect to ESG expectations), risks related to global trade and changing assumptions underlying globalisation, and political uncertainty.

The risk of regulatory changes and scrutiny continues to loom large. While the risk of the regulatory environment affecting the processes, products and services of the business increased year over year for 2023, it declined in relative significance to other risks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached an endemic state. Risks related to the pandemic have declined this year — specifically, market conditions imposed by and in response to COVID-19 and emerging variants.

Our latest issue of Board Perspectives elaborates on the above and other takeaways. As leaders look forward to the next 12 months, the message is that talent, succession and culture issues, economic uncertainty, supply chain challenges, and the impact of digital transformation initiatives are expected to command the most attention in the C-suite and boardroom.

We invite interested parties to read the executive summary of our survey results to learn more.

For more about key takeaways from our global survey of C-level executives and directors, read the article here.

(Board Perspectives — Issue 159)

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