Russia-Ukraine Resources for Business Executives and Their Teams
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, C-suite executives, business leaders and their teams can consult this expert guidance.
A Note from Gartner Chief of Research
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a tectonic disturbance exacting an immediate toll on people in the region and throughout the world. Many of our associates have family and friends living in Ukraine and Russia. Like many of you, we also have associates in Russia who we care about deeply. Thousands of those based in Europe express stress and anxiety about being so close to the front lines of this Russian aggression.
Our responsibility as leaders is, first and foremost, to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and their families. Only then can we address the range of business issues that we also face.
As we work actively to help organizations navigate these troubling times, our clients have found it helpful to access insights and tools for a range of leaders, who must work closely together to set immediate- and longer-term strategies to protect the health and welfare of both their people and their organizations.
We don’t yet know how extensive or protracted the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be. Depending on your functional responsibilities, your focus may be on employee welfare, risk exposure, costs, investments, revenue disruptions, supply-chain struggles or value-chain partners. You may be grappling with other operational changes, too.
The resources linked throughout this page are available to any business leader, regardless of their status as a Gartner client. (Existing clients can log in to read Responding to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and access other resources.) We hope you will find them to be of practical help at this time.
Chief of Research, Gartner
At its best in a crisis, the executive team projects strength and clarity and is responsible for both employees’ psychological safety and business continuity. From the outset, communicate clearly and consistently to stakeholders.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the crisis. Equip yourself with the facts and status of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from both internal and external sources.
- Be transparent about what you know and what you don’t. Employees crave authenticity; be honest about where the uncertainty lies.
- Communicate a plan of action. Your team will want to know what to do next, as well as the rationale behind the specific steps the organization is taking.
- Listen to your employees. Anticipate their questions and create an open dialogue.
- Keep in touch regularly. Find ways to connect with your teams so employees don’t feel isolated or disengaged, especially when working in a remote environment.
Practice empathy and curiosity. Don’t make assumptions, jump to conclusions or change the subject. Everyone’s experience is unique, so seek to understand the situation from direct reports’ perspectives. Pay attention to tone of voice, body language and context to gauge how colleagues are feeling as they speak with you and their teammates.
Resist the urge to give advice or offer solutions prematurely. Sometimes people share their concerns just to feel seen and validated. It is better to respond, “I’m glad you shared this with me” than “I’m sure it will be OK.”
HR leaders are on the human front line of crisis response and are key to ensuring employee safety and well-being. Lessons from the COVID-19 period are applicable for other crises, like this one.
Emergency actions at the onset of the pandemic and sustained actions ever since have focused organizations on anticipating and supporting employee needs. This already created a wide-ranging list of HR imperatives for 2022. HR now has another crisis through which to navigate — at a time that employees are increasingly demanding more value and purpose at work and expect their employers to engage on social and political issues.
The immediate focus, though, must be on the pressing needs of employees and those who manage them. Lean on what we’ve learned from the deleterious effects of the pandemic on workforce health.
Every organization is now impacted by the cyber part of hybrid warfare (cyber and kinetic), so it’s vital that all executives understand the range of cybersecurity issues. Be prepared for heightened risk, and increase your organization’s cybersecurity readiness proactively.
Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, its cyberattacks targeted Ukrainian government websites, raising concerns about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure systems. The risks for businesses are equally real, given the range of lurking security failures.
Read more: Your Guide to Cybersecurity
Rely on threat intelligence tailored for your organization, and watch for guidance from your government contacts to prepare for attacks you may not be ready to handle. Focus on what you can control. Increase awareness and vigilance to detect and prevent potential increased threats, but be mindful of the heightened stress and pressure your organization is feeling. A human error due to these forces may have a greater impact on your organization than an actual cyber attack.
In the medium- and longer-term, the challenges inherent in protecting the ever-expanding digital footprint of modern organizations will make cybersecurity a critical imperative for all executives.
CIOs and Technology Officers
CIOs and other technology leaders will play a critical part in the cyberthreat response team, but they also have responsibility to manage their global computer environment, delivery workforce and partners, all of which face disruption during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
More generally, this situation is a stark example of the kinds of macro trends that CIOs need to incorporate into their strategic planning assumptions. Further, the ubiquity of digital technology is intersecting with the geopolitical aspirations of countries, creating what Gartner refers to as “digital geopolitics,” competition in the digital realm between countries. Digital geopolitics will present both opportunities and challenges for CIOs to manage.
Digital geopolitics, which presents both opportunities and challenges for CIOs as they manage strategy, is the culmination of four forces:
- The desire of governments to create a local technology industry
- Concerns over digital sovereignty
- The growing role that digital technology has in the military and intelligence spheres
- The aspiration of many governments to exert hegemonic control over the governance of cyberspace
Chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) must expect significant supply chain issues, including:
- Key material shortages
- Material cost increases
- Production capacity impacts
- Demand volatility
- Capacity constraints
- Cybersecurity breaches
To counteract instability in your supply chain, immediately start creating first-tier visibility into existing supply networks. Continue to commit to and secure product supply volumes for the most fragile supply chains, and increase resilience by deploying strategic redundancies.
Enterprise Risk Management
The Russian invasion of Ukraine represents a moment of intense uncertainty, one that places an additional premium on risk-based decision making. Executive leaders who make defensible, risk-informed choices are more likely to navigate their organizations with resilience, from response through recovery. Geopolitical risks often move quickly and unpredictably while imposing an extensive impact on business performance. Leverage location-specific risk management strategies to equip your organization to manage these urgent threats.
Finance leaders need to prepare for material changes to protect cash flows while their organizations navigate the operations and revenue impacts of this crisis.
Organizations with material operations and/or revenue generated in the regions impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine can expect to experience disruption and severe cash-flow challenges, if they aren’t already. Survival, not growth, will be the priority for organizations and will depend on maintaining cash flows and income while continuing to be innovative with technology in unaffected parts of the business.
For organizations that are materially impacted, it will be important to quarantine cash flow by assessing risk, cost and value in decision making. Also define new spend levels by identifying what you need and how much you can afford to pay for it in this harsh economic reality. Reduce strains on current cash flow by proactively canceling projects, eliminating services and reducing service levels. Anticipate spend increases in essential areas to ensure business continuity, while eliminating — or at least freezing — all nonessential spending.
Even less directly impacted organizations will face supply-chain and revenue disruption that threatens to push up input-price inflation. Mismanaging costs in this environment could rob your organization of the capacity needed to fuel its postpandemic plans.
What’s needed now is a strategic approach to managing costs related to pricing, personnel, raw material supplies, IT contracts and demand planning.
Gartner research shows three key success factors for strategic cost management: consistent use of cost frameworks across functions, clearly defined measures of success and cross-functional collaboration on cost management.
Legal leaders have the special role of understanding the complete risk landscape beyond obvious and immediate threats. Amid urgent actions and triage, legal leaders guide their enterprises to the soundest solutions. Right now, with threats from cybersecurity rising, it’s important to be familiar with the fundamentals of cyber risk and its legal implications.
First step: Understand the key concepts underlying cyber risk to ensure you can participate in value-added conversations with critical partners across your organization.
As organizations set in motion plans to react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, chief marketing officers (CMOs) should take pains to understand the attitudinal mindsets prevalent in each market. Gartner’s global consumer survey data of the U.S., U.K., French and German markets offers a view into the cultural conditions immediately prior to the invasion and provides directional insight into how consumers may think and act in the face of this ongoing conflict.
Consumers across all four markets say they trust “big brands” more than their country’s government. This puts corporations in a highly visible position as they decide which, if any, actions to take at a moment of global crisis — at a time of growing demands among consumers, employees and other stakeholders for organizations to have a strong social and environmental conscience.
CMOs and their teams also need to leverage scenario planning exercises as a way to consider hypothetical future business scenarios now that many of the variables considered during scenario planning may have changed. Scenario planning is an important tool to identify critical uncertainties, guide near- and long-term decision making, and build organizational resilience during volatile times.
Technology and Service Providers
Outsourced software development and IT services will see significant impacts as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is creating people and business-continuity challenges for many organizations.
Businesses and service providers with software development or other IT service centers (captive or outsourced) in the impacted region will need to take immediate, pragmatic and specific actions to manage the risks. The top priorities are:
- Protect people: Place human needs above all other actions. Do all you can to protect lives, and regularly check in with your employees in affected regions. Ask how you or your organization can extend support to individuals and their families.
- Protect your organization: Segregate local networks so that cyberattacks can be contained locally. When communication is needed, provision satellite phones, portable satellite data terminals or hot spots locally or regionally. Ensure appropriate country-level business continuity plans and third-party contingency plans for all other key jurisdictions from which you receive goods or services in case the conflict spreads.
- Protect your information: Move master copies of all code, data, designs, documentation, test scripts, configurations and any other artifacts critical to business to servers in your home jurisdiction, protected by immutable backups. If work needs to continue in affected regions, use copies of the master data in the cloud and replicate it in home jurisdictions at least daily.
- Protect your service: Invoke your downtime procedures, disaster recovery and business continuity plans, and work with your service provider to move work from impacted cities and countries to your or your service provider’s alternative sites.
- Protect your suppliers: Ask service providers in affected countries for alternative payment methods that do not violate sanctions. Collaborate with your accountants and auditors to legally move money in and out of impacted countries.