Crafting the ‘G’ in ESG: Accountability in the Boardroom

By the Nasdaq Center for Board Excellence ‘ESG & Sustainability’ Insights Council: Helle Bank Jorgensen, CEO, Competent Boards; Amma Anaman, Associate General Counsel and Legal Relationship Manager, U.S. Listings, Nasdaq; Chantal Wessels, CFO, Corporate Platforms, Nasdaq. First published by Nasdaq – reposted by Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance

As investment in environment, social and governance (ESG) gains momentum, investors and stakeholders increasingly expect swift and concrete sustainability initiatives from companies across the globe. But boards have lagged behind the ESG fervor. While 40% of directors were found to be ESG conscious with some level of knowledge in the space, only 8% of board directors were found to be competent and capable of effective, embodied action, according to a 2021 study of the top 100 public corporations internationally.

We recently considered the evolving perspectives in ESG, as well as tools and strategies for boards to meet the ESG expectations of their stakeholders.

Why Leaders Must Adapt To Evolving ESG Demands

By Helle Bank Jorgensen, CEO of Competent Boards

Earlier this year, I took part in a fascinating session with the World Economic Forum as part of the New Champion Dialogues 2022 series. Hosted by Olivier Schwab, Managing Director at WEF, I was joined by Anushka Bogdanov, Chair and founder of Risk Insights and Jason Jay, Senior Director at MIT Sloan School of Management. 

The discussion focused on the rapidly changing picture of environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements for companies as they come under increasing pressure from stock markets to provide transparent, measurable and comparable data on their activities. 

And let’s not forget pressure from employees, suppliers, customers and other societal stakeholders. ESG risks and opportunities are a fast-moving field, with new regulations and expectations coming thick and fast. 

It starts and ends with the board of directors

For companies that want to effectively adapt to these evolving ESG requirements, including climate change, that process must start and end with the board of directors. ESG and climate change are areas where board directors cannot provide oversight if they don’t have the insight.