A recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll and the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Sustainable Business reveals a substantial disparity between the lip service corporate directors give to ESG during board meetings and firms’ actual strides taken to achieve ESG objectives.
The survey found that:
- 43 percent of employees believe their company suffers from a short-term focus, a lack of investor interest, and leadership that is indifferent to sustainability.
- Only roughly one-third believe their companies have made “significant strides” in meeting environmental objectives.
- 40 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, “Our leaders don’t believe in sustainability.”
According to CB Bhattacharya, director of the aforementioned center at the University of Pittsburgh, these results show that many businesses might be either ignoring environmental objectives, paying mere lip service, or failing to communicate their intentions clearly. He asserts, “It’s vivid as day that employees see companies are overly focused on profits and the short term.”
While employees might feel powerless, Bhattacharya believes boards have the authority to ensure that management teams are held accountable for sustainable actions. Furthermore, he believes these concerns are crucial not only because employees may publicly criticize companies for misleading practices, but also due to the negative impacts associated with climate change.
Bhattacharya offers recommendations for boards:
- Ensure top management defines the societal value created by their ESG goals. If a company’s strategy excludes sustainability, it is a sign of impending doom.
- Integrate sustainability into every corporate practice and strategy. While the management team should devise the company’s climate strategy, the board can provide the necessary resources and motivation.
- Allocate resources to educate employees about the company’s sustainability objectives and strategies. Boards have the power to prioritize environmental protection over short-term profits.
Emphasizing the need for a change in corporate mentality, Bhattacharya states, “Threading concern for the natural world into every corporate practice is not rocket science, but it’s a mindset, and it’s hard work.” The Center plans to conduct this survey yearly in collaboration with the Harris Poll to monitor trends.
See full article at Yahoo Finance.
Jack McPherrin ([email protected]) is a managing editor of StoppingSocialism.com, research editor for The Heartland Institute, and a research fellow for Heartland's Socialism Research Center. He holds an MA in International Affairs from Loyola University-Chicago, and a dual BA in Economics and History from Boston College.