How Corporate Boards Can Effectively Oversee ESG Issues -4/20/2021
From Louisa Cresson
ESG issues are increasingly taking center stage in the boardroom and with investors. The Weinberg Center and the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets co-hosted a webinar roundtable discussion, which focused on how corporate boards can effectively oversee environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. In particular, as the risks from ESG issues such as climate change, water scarcity and human rights become more apparent, and with growing investor attention and action on ESG issues, it is increasingly important for corporate boards to understand how these issues affect business strategy and performance.
The Roundtable reviewed and discussed Ceres' report, "Running the Risk: How Corporate Boards Can Oversee Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Issues," which focuses on the critical role of the board in overseeing ESG risks in order to avoid potential financial losses and/or litigation, and to effectively respond to investor pressure.
In this webcast, the Roundtable participants provided guidance on how boards can effectively oversee risks posed by ESG issues, and provide recommendations of questions directors should be asking management throughout the risk identification, prioritization and mitigation processes. .
The Roundtable participants represented various constituencies – the corporate/director community, investor community, legal community, and academic community. The participants were:
- Veena Ramani, Senior Program Director, Capital Market Systems, Ceres (Moderator)
- Margaret Foran, Chief Governance Officer, Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Prudential Financial, Inc.
- Michael Younis, Vice President, Asset Stewardship Team, State Street Global Advisors
- Cynthia Williams, Professor, Osler Chair in Business Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and
- Susan Mac Cormac, Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP