Moving sustainability from the backroom to the boardroom

In February, Alumni organised an event titled ’The role and responsibility of the board regarding sustainability’. One thing that the panel and all guests agreed upon was that sustainability needs to be addressed, and it’s urgent. The question is – how?

As we previously reported, a majority of today’s organisations do not discuss environmental impact in the boardroom. The Alumni / Harvey Nash Board Report suggests that sustainability is an uncomfortable topic to discuss in the boardroom. This, however, must change. In February, Alumni organised an event concerning this topic, in Stockholm, titled ’The role and responsibility of the board regarding sustainability.


We asked some of the guests the very same question: What does it take to boost the board’s sense of urgency regarding sustainability?

This is what they said.


Ingvild Huseby, CEO, Opengarden

“I believe it takes two things. Firstly, appealing to people’s emotions and making clear how these issues affect future generations. But you must also demonstrate how there is financial revenue to be gained. Establishing both these aspects is the only way to make a lasting impact on the board.”


Johan Skoglund, President and CEO, JM

“I think we need to ask ourselves what concrete measures we can take right now. All organisations should take the step from preparing regulations to taking action. Time is of the essence.”


Magnus Meyer, MD, WSP Europe

“We should shine a light on good examples. And there are plenty of them! Sustainability combined with profitability is the core business of many companies. In fact, all organisations that I’m involved in regard this issue as the most important one. Not just in the boardroom, but also on management and operational levels.”


Kirsi Sormunen, Board member of VR Group, DNA and Sitra; formerly Chief Sustainability Officer at Nokia

“Involving top management in these issues is extremely important. In Finland we try to spotlight companies with CEOs that are knowledgeable in the field of sustainability – and willing to talk about it. Concrete examples and commitment from the CEO and the board, that’s the answer. “


Angelica Frithiof, Board member of Samhall

“From a business sector context, it would be interesting to raise an ideological question: Is economical growth the only kind of growth we want? And is it reasonable to carry on like we do today? This might be provocative but I would like to broaden the spectrum, ideologically. I also think we should consider all aspects of sustainability, including ethical and social issues. ”

There is a direct correlation between the composition and dynamics of the board of directors and an organisation’s success. If you want to know more about how Alumni can help with board development, please contact Katarina.