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New board-level guide to sustainability

  • The Sustainable Board Image

Jan 23, 2012

Deloitte's Global Center for Corporate Governance has released "The Sustainable Board," a white paper that provides a board-level overview of sustainability and its impact on organizations.

According to the paper, sustainability is increasingly becoming a top-of-mind issue for boards that are seeking to enhance performance and reputation, mitigate risks, and foster innovation and growth. The paper is presented as a series of topics, with examples of questions that boards may wish to ask themselves and management to further their understanding. There are specific sections on the measurement of sustainability information and sustainability transparency and disclosure.

The questions in the paper in relation to disclosure are reproduced below:


Questions for directors to ask
  • What are the organization's policies regarding setting goals and measuring performance in economic, environmental and social areas (i.e. internal reporting) and disclosing those activities to investors and other stakeholders (i.e. external reporting)?
  • Does management voluntarily disclosure sustainability and social responsibility related strategies, performance and risks beyond the general requirements set forth by regulators (e.g. Management's Discussion & Analysis guidance)? Is the board required to review and approve all sustainability disclosures before they are released?
  • What information, if any, does management provide on sustainability issues to regulators, customers, suppliers, non-governmental organizations or other stakeholders?
  • Does the organization disclose the metrics used to measure performance towards achieving its sustainability objectives? Is there a third party verification process for sustainability reports?
  • How does the board satisfy itself regarding the accuracy of the sustainability information that is publicly disclosed?

The paper notes the following in its conclusion:

Demand for reporting and disclosure of sustainability performance continues to increase – both as a response to regulation, and stakeholder and investor pressure, but also from internal management looking for better ways to manage risk and measure and improve performance.

Click for The Sustainable Board.

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