Environmental issues – a matter for the boardroom

With The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals just a little more than a decade away, the time for addressing environmental issues and acting on them is now. However, a majority of today’s organisations do not discuss environmental impact in the boardroom. Opportunity knocks for those willing to make a positive change.

The Harvey Nash / Alumni Board Report for 2018/19 is out, titled ‘The Uncomfortable Boardroom – The New Normal?’. The research represents the views of more than 674 chairs and non-executive directors.

One of the study’s findings shows that 56% of respondents have spent zero hours discussing environmental impact in the boardroom. Even though current climate projections for global warming will be disastrous for both business and society.

Ethics not being quantified

We all know that organisations have the power to change the world for the better. And we all know that setting the culture and tone of the organisation is up to the board. But in boardrooms, the discussion of ethics is often detached from organisational realities and rarely evaluated or quantified. Consequently the opportunity of ethics generating greater business performance goes out the window, even though 77% of respondents in the survey recognise that to do so would increase employee engagement and improve brand reputation.

A majority of respondents have spent zero hours discussing environmental impact in the boardroom.

Obviously, organisations must rethink what it means to do ‘good business’. Traditional corporate social responsibility activities are no longer enough – you should also consider how your organisation delivers positive economic, social and environmental impact in the world. 

Part of the problem or part of the solution? 

Ultimately, organisations can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. There’s no ignoring climate change, even though it might at times feel distant and intangible. Increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather events are early indications of how climate change and resource shortages will affect every step of the supply chain. 

Setting up a plan for how your organisation can be part of the solution will embed sustainability throughout the business. It’s important to keep in mind that consumers, employees, investors and activists have the power to effect change. Boards must understand this when planning their decision-making agenda. With millennials demanding ethical and environmentally friendly employers, organisations (not to mention the planet) can really benefit from making environmental issues a matter for the boardroom. 

If you want to discuss how to be part of the solution, do not hesitate to get in touch.