Rankings; ratings; standards; disclosures; stakeholder expectations; a 2022 board director’s head is spinning when it comes to ESG and climate risks.

A close look at the latest Sustainability Board Report shows that only eight per cent of those on ESG and climate board committees have the requisite formal education in ESG and sustainability to know how to take informed action. In any situation, that’s a low number. When facing climate change, the biggest challenge of this and the next generations, that lack of education is dangerous.

That’s according to our CEO Helle Bank Jorgensen, who sorts through the data to find answers for board directors in her most recent article for Environment Journal. Boards need to communicate with confidence and truth, she says, and the only route to that is education. 

“Boards need to ensure that properly educated or qualified people serve on committees tasked to provide ESG and climate oversight,” says Helle. “And if they don’t have them — find them, fast. Or find suitable training for the current board of directors. This must be a demand, not a would-you-mind-if-we-asked-nicely. This is the only way boards can communicate about ESG: with confidence and with truth.

“Asset managers need to ask difficult, forensic questions of all companies. Don’t be fooled by the nice bright greenwash on the vehicle. Lift the hood, kick the tires. If companies start to wriggle on the hook, they are either hiding something or have not yet found the courageous, educated leadership that will help lead their company — and alongside others the world — out of this most dangerous and delicate situation.”

More than 20 years ago, the then UK prime minister Tony Blair put “education, education, education” at the heart of the Labour Party manifesto “to make Britain a learning society”. Here at Competent Boards, we want to provide world-class education on ESG and climate risk for board directors and senior business professionals around the world, and make boardrooms places of learning, too. 

Read Lessons in ESG: The road to net zero is paved by board education in full. 

Mathew Loup is Competent Boards’ Director, Marketing & Communications. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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