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ESG & Diversity
Dottie Schindlinger Image
Host
Dottie Schindlinger
Executive Director, Diligent Institute

Putting Stakeholder Relationships at the Heart of ESG Management

Summary:

In this episode of The Corporate Director Podcast, hear from Sue Siegel, experienced CEO, board director and venture capitalist as she shares her opinion on how boards can center stakeholder concerns and promote diversity at the heart of ESG strategy.

In This Episode:

  1. The Emergence of ESG: Siegel gives her opinion on why ESG has become so central to today’s boardroom strategy.
  2. The Evolution of ESG Metrics: Siegel shares insights on how ESG metrics are likely to evolve now and in the future.
  3. Changing the Face of Governance: Siegel shares practical advice on how to diversify boardrooms to better understand and manage ESG.

The Emergence of ESG

Siegel discusses how ESG became so prominent in boardroom discussions: “ESG as we know it is becoming a high priority, especially for U.S. companies given new SEC regulation looking to standardize climate reporting. particularly for U.S. listed companies.”

She goes on, “We all know that the ‘E’ part of the equations has been a topic of discussion for several years now. I'd say Europe has been ahead of the U.S., and so it’s been especially challenging because everyone is clamoring to figure out which are the appropriate frameworks to utilize. Is it SASB or TCFD, or something else?”

Siegel continues: “At the moment, the SEC is weighing in with all the measures they're proposing that should be reported on over time. As boards, we need to truly understand and oversee how management is going to embed ESG right into the company strategy.”

"Boards need to rethink the talents they have on the board to understand skills gaps, especially as we continue to manage emerging reporting frameworks and standards around ESG.”

-Sue Siegel, Board Member, Illumina, Align Technologies, Nevro, KFF; Chairman, MIT’s The Engine

The Evolution of ESG Metrics

Siegel sheds light on how ESG metrics are evolving: “One of the things we're all going to be learning, management and boards alike, are the unintended consequences that come about because of engaging more thoroughly with different ESG issues. We know the ‘G’ component quite well; it's been around a long time. The board must get much more familiar with regards to environmental and social aspects and the qualitative and quantitative measures associated with them. Additionally, we need to become conversant and have the appropriate expertise to ask the right questions; understanding the risks for all stakeholders and not just shareholders.”

She goes on, “The board, as with financial metrics, is going to be expected to see oversee company efforts when it comes to ESG metrics. I suspect that we will have a set of metrics that the board will become very familiar with, and will have dashboards associated to it, very similar to what is happening now with financial metrics. We have a chance now to be deliberate about this process and successfully guide our companies in a changing landscape.”

“Whether you're a listed public company, private enterprise, nonprofit organization or governmental organization, everyone cares about what happens to the climate and how that impacts their stakeholders and their shareholders.”

-Sue Siegel, Board Member, Illumina, Align Technologies, Nevro, KFF; Chairman, MIT’s The Engine

Changing the Face of Governance

Siegel concludes with a few recommendations to boards on diversifying their ranks: “In order to tackle the challenges I’ve mention, we need to change the face of governance by increasing the levels of underrepresented groups present in the boardroom. This process becomes more urgent by the day. having women of boards, on a go forward basis is just more and more urgent. Once you have that representation at the highest levels of a company, it tends to cascade down.”

She adds: “The next generation entering and advancing in the workforce, particularly Millennials and Generation Z, care a lot about social causes. They care about a company’s purpose and values. We’re also observing the idea that shareholder primacy is no longer the only element that we should be considering when it comes to company operation, and this has only become a stronger sentiment in the business world since the COVID-19 pandemic began over two years ago.”

Also in this episode…

Siegel also discusses how boardrooms are likely to change over the next decade: “The notion of TSR will not just be about total shareholder return, but it will be about total stakeholder returns and the measures associated will evolve and get much more standardized over time. They will not be just financial metrics, but non-financial as well.”

Resources in this episode:

Guests
Sue Siegel Image
Sue Siegel
Board Member, Illumina, Align Technologies, Nevro, KFF; Chairman, MIT’s The Engine

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