How Do We Get Board Room Attention for Our Corporate Sustainability Efforts? And Help Directors Understand and Support the Corporate Effort?

G&A's Sustainability Highlights (08.16.2019)
Aug 22, 2019 10:00 AM ET
Newsletter

Those questions and more are often raised by managers trying to get the board room and C-suite attention – and support needed -- to launch or advance the company’s sustainability journey.

Here at G&A Institute our team has ongoing conversations with corporate managers about ESG / corporate sustainability and related topics.  What often comes up:  the “G” is challenging.  The questions raised include...

What metrics can we apply to show “governance progress” in our reporting?  Governance – that’s clearly a board room responsibility. What is measurable…and then reportable to be part of the ESG profile of the company?

How can we get the board’s attention to be able to keep them updated and involved in our company’s sustainability efforts? 

If we are staring out, how can we get the board’s attention to be able to help them understand the importance of corporate sustainability (we hear this from managers trying to get the program going and needing resources to be allocated).

What information does the board need to understand the whole topic area? (Corporate Sustainability / Sustainable Investing et al.)

Some answers to these and other questions are at hand in the advice from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in the form of a commentary by the organization’s associate of redefining value, Johanna Tahtinen.  She offers perspectives and advice on Ethical Corporation’s platform.

To move from “nice to have” to “need to have”, she cites a McKinsey & Company report that found that a quarter of assets under management (globally) are now invested considering ESG factors, and what was a niche practice I now large and fast-growing.  Good for the board to know.

And, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Davos meetings organizer, in its third Global Risk Report identified ESG as “clearly becoming part of the everyday business realty and well as a fiduciary duty.  Good for the board to consider.

Governance metrics are a starting point and focus area for many investors, creating expectations for companies to integrate ESG “meaningfully into governance structures, management processes and disclosure”.  Clearly in the board room list of duties and responsibilities to address.

The influential WBCSD, Johanna Tahtinen explains, recently launched a project on governance and oversight to elevate ESG-related issues to the board room by supporting stronger decision-making, risk management and business resilience.

Good governance – assuring that this a high-priority in the board room – sends strong signals to the capital markets.  How do we know that?  A study by WBCSD and accounting firm PwC shows that investors (generally) have more confidence in the information reported that governance metrics are a starting point and focus area for many investors.

This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view full issue.