Organisations around the world are adopting sustainable development policies and practices in the face of growing environmental concerns. The principles of sustainable development allow us to meet the needs of today without compromising the generations of tomorrow, but it requires a new kind of governance.
It means that to make better decisions while keeping green investors happy, boards of directors need a new sustainable governance model. This starts with a clear vision and is supported through policies, practices and tools to progress sustainability throughout the organization.
Good sustainable governance enables collaboration with stakeholders, such as investors and consumers, who want to see transparent and responsible policies from the companies they do business with. It results in a voluntary and formalized approach that integrates social, environmental and economic concerns to ethics, decisions and strategies. This then leads to the establishment of best practices and improved processes.
Going paperless is a great example of how boards can lead by example. Indeed, many boards of directors have turned to digital board portals to reduce paper consumption and travel-related carbon footprints. Such tools show that boards actually ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to sustainable development practices.
Driving sustainability into all operations is the overall goal. But it’s not always easy to involve everyone, including internal and external stakeholders. Both commitment and action need to come from the top with strong governance. Next, sustainability evangelists should be recruited from every division and department to come together to generate new, practical ways of doing things.
Sustainable governance is based around six key words: strategy, market positioning, measurement, process, people and organization. The core questions to ask when determining a sustainable governance model are:
- Do you have a shared corporate vision for sustainability?
- What are your key goals that you want to achieve with your sustainability program?
- How do you engage your key stakeholders?
- What structure, roles and responsibilities are required?
- Do you use a paperless board portal software management?
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