Boards fail test

The board is a key driver of sustainability success yet the majority of boards are still not even moderately engaged in company sustainability efforts, according to a new study.

These are the findings of Joining forces: collaboration and leadership for sustainability, which is based on a survey by MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR), global management consulting firm The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the UN Global Compact of more than 3,795 executives and managers from 113 countries, including Australia.

The report found that 86 per cent of executives believed the board of directors should play a strong role in driving their company’s sustainability efforts – yet only 42 per cent of respondents saw their boards to be at least moderately engaged with the company’s sustainability agenda.

According to the report, some 90 per cent of executives agree that businesses need to collaborate to address the sustainability challenges they face, while 61 per cent of executives whose companies participated in sustainability-related partnerships viewed those collaborations as quite or very successful.

But collaboration was not yet common practice, with only 47 per cent of respondents reporting that their companies were actively collaborating.

According to the report, companies with boards perceived as active sustainability supporters had a higher rate of success in collaborations. Sixty seven per cent of respondents with engaged boards rated collaborations as very or quite successful, while in companies whose boards were not engaged, the reported rate of success was less than half of that.

The research suggested that there was also a learning curve for companies, where the more collaborations a respondent’s company has engaged in, the more likely respondents were to rate their collaborations as successful.

Click here to download a copy of the report.