Boards and Social Issues

It’s perhaps an understatement to say that companies and their boards often struggle to determine if, and how, they should address significant social issues. While certainly not all can be addressed, a board needs to be engaged in a discussion about what issues are paramount (and why), what the company is considering saying about them…

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Speak Up But Not Out

When a CEO speaks out people listen. But is that a good thing? Some recent examples suggest it’s not. “Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic.” This was CEO of Twitter Elon Musk’s tweet just two days before the…

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Rationalizations and Push Back

Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about our values and immediately change the behaviors of ourselves or others because, typically, our inner thoughts and emotions present us with a rather sophisticated set of rationalizations for either acting or not. There are a number of ways others can push back on your ideas – common rationalizations. For…

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What climate-related information to disclose? It’s a moving target these days

What climate-related information to disclose? It’s a moving target these days.   It seems like every major country jurisdiction is fiddling with what and how to disclose environmental and social information. There is also a great deal of corporate reporting consolidation globally. Often the disclosure priorities are those that either (or both) have a substantial…

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Boards will need to hire sustainability experts – and soon.

It seems everywhere you look these days the talk is of ESG, or environmental, social and governance. A commonly used argument is that improving ESG performance has beneficial effects on the product markets (consumers care about ESG), on the labor market (ESG helps retain and attract talent), and on the financial market (investors increasingly demand…

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Cybersecurity, Personal Data and the Board

Managers are in the midst of a perfect storm where a number of cyber issues need attention. Because digital technology is now integral to most companies’ activities, all board members need to possess digital savvy. This post is a first step in understanding some of the fundamentals.   IT Governance Spencer Stuart, a global executive…

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How are ESG metrics tied to Executive Compensation?

Companies have started to tie compensation to various ESG metrics. Earlier this month Papa John’s pizza announced it would evaluate executives’ progress toward material ESG priorities. UBS, Caterpillar, Apple and Trane have made similar moves. And in April, Mastercard announced it would extend its executive compensation model – which ties bonus pay to ESG goals – to all of its…

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Boards and CEO Activism

Howard Schultz, founder and former CEO of Starbucks once said: “You can’t create emotional attachment if you stand for nothing.” And yet, corporate social advocacy remains controversial. When a CEO speaks out directly with the public about a current social topic – but one that is not directly related to the core business they lead…

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Why Compliance with the Law is Often not Enough

When we talk about ethics, what do we mean? And how does it differ – or relate – to compliance? Often we’re simply talking about good decision making when we talk about ethics. It’s hard to come up with a business decision that doesn’t involve deciding what would be a morally good path forward and…

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How Boards Implement DEI in 2022

Despite progress in the last few years, changing existing board demographics will likely take years at current rates. Here’s what your board needs to think about. The recognition for greater diversity and equity on boards has come from direct pressure on three main fronts: regulatory quotas, listing exchanges and institutional investors – see my February…

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