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Do Corporate Boards Care? The Sustainability Board Report 2020

The Sustainability Board Report aims to showcase different dimensions of good corporate governance and the importance of sustainable corporate leadership. By drawing out best practice and changes over time, it also aims to help organisations learn from their peers and competitors and understand the changing landscape.  

The 2019 Report found that, despite significant variation in the quality and quantity of sustainability reporting, including across regions, there were certain key elements and patterns that made certain companies stand out. These were: the existence of board committees dedicated to sustainability; board committee charters explicitly addressing sustainability issues; and female representation on boards. The latter was linked to the finding that women board members were often responsible for driving sustainability efforts.  

Our 2020 report explores these issues once again with an added focus on what has changed in the past year. Three takeaways emerge. First, we find that there has been a significant increase in the number of sustainability board committees across the 100 largest of the Forbes Global 2000 companies, driven mainly by increases in China. Second, expertise in sustainability and relevant prior experience at the board level tackling these issues is on the rise. Third, the past year has seen incremental increases in overall gender diversity on corporate boards. We conclude that, despite the direction of change being positive, its pace remains too slow.

The world is changing – perhaps faster than ever before. As environmental and societal challenges increase, company boards have an obligation to equip themselves with the people, the knowledge, and the tools needed to promote long-term sustainability. How fast they are able to change and anticipate trends will be a measure of their success.

This is the Executive Summary of The Sustainabilty Board Report 2020


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