U.S. Boards of Directors Often Fail to Take Charge of Corporate Sustainability

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U.S. Boards of Directors Often Fail to Take Charge of Corporate Sustainability

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Friday, October 14, 2011 - 9:30am

CONTENT: Press Release

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) October 14, 2011 - Leaders of U.S. publicly-traded companies are becoming increasingly aware that their access to capital and ability to implement a long-term business strategy depend on support from multiple stakeholders.
However, when it comes to social and environmental matters, boards often face a knowledge gap that can impair the performance of its oversight responsibility, according to a new report by The Conference Board, the global business research and membership organization.
Sustainability Matters: Why and How Corporate Boards Should Become Involved was developed in collaboration with a team of experts in the field to provide guidance to directors approaching the task of sustainability oversight.
“Today, more than ever, corporate sustainability has risen to the status of strategic business matter and demands supervision from the top,” says Matteo Tonello, Executive Director of Corporate Leadership at The Conference Board and editor of the report. “However, despite the extensive body of literature available on corporate governance and sustainability as separate areas of research, minimal attention has been paid to the interaction between the two. In particular, there is limited knowledge of the role that should be performed by the board of directors in designing, endorsing, and overseeing the implementation of a corporate sustainability program.”
The report highlights a series of issues for a pragmatic boardroom discussion on the subject, including:
  • How to articulate the business case for embarking on sustainability initiatives, which have tremendous potential bottom-line benefits.

  • How to benefit from the legal protection offered to corporate directors making socially outward-looking business decisions.

  • How to conduct a stakeholder-value analysis and use its outcome to design a sustainability strategy.

  • How to develop a coherent set of metrics to evaluate the progress made by the company toward such goals, and weave such metrics into the company’s top executive compensation policy.

  • How to communicate a sustainability strategy to employees and the market, while avoiding common missteps that could damage corporate reputation.

  • How to integrate philanthropy into the corporate sustainability program.

Sustainability Matters: Why and How Corporate Boards Should Become Involved
Report #1481-11-RR
The Conference Board  
About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.
For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232

Jonathan Liu
1 212 339 0257



Keywords: Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | BOARD OF DIRECTORS | Conference Board | citizenship | governance | strategy | sustainability

CONTENT: Press Release