This year at COMMIT!Forum, Louis Coppola of G&A Institute and Veena Ramani of CERES will present a plenary session titled, “A View From the Top: Governance of the Corporate Sustainability Function.”
In their session, Coppola and Ramani will discuss investors’ increasing interest in the role of corporate boards in driving companies’ sustainability agendas. As company stakeholders increasingly expect businesses to operate sustainably, the case for board-level oversight of sustainability issues has grown more and more prevalent. However, even as recognition of environmental and social risk factors has become increasingly mainstream, companies differ in the level of which they commit to formalized systems of sustainability oversight at the board level.
This plenary panel will examine these differences through case studies of various corporate responses, and will review the drivers behind increasing interest in board-level CSR governance as well as research on emerging best practices in this area.
CR Magazine spoke with Coppola for further insight into the session.
CR: Why do you think it is important for people to attend COMMIT!Forum?
LC: It's important for people to attend the COMMIT!Forum in order to keep up to speed, and learn from real leaders in the field on the latest developments in CSR, Sustainability, Citizenship and related Environmental and Social issues. It's also one of the best places to network with leaders in this space year after year.
CR: Why should attendees attend your session specifically? What topics will be discussed, and what value will this session bring to attendees?
LC: Our session will approach an increasingly important topic which is how the organization governs the sustainability function. CERES and G&A Institute will explore independent but related research studies on best practices and current state of the practice when it comes to important sustainability governance topics such as board oversight, cross-functional teams, board committee charters, risk and opportunity management and other important areas of how a company manages its internal sustainability function.
CR: How does board oversight of sustainability issues strengthen the ability of the company to integrate sustainable solutions into their strategic planning and operations?
LC: Having the board involved in the oversight of ESG issues demonstrates to the employees, investors, customers and other important stakeholders that the company understands the importance of ESG and is taking the proper steps to measure, manage, and address these issues.
The board is the governance body that can consider strategic ESG issues from the organizational level (not from within a Silo) and can make decisions and allocations can be made swiftly to address these important issues. This improves the company’s ability to be resilient and strategic in their planning and operations.