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16 Mar 2021

Professor Mervyn King S.C., IIRC Chair Emeritus and author of King corporate governance codes, Paul Polman, Co-Founder & Chair, IMAGINE (former CEO of Unilever), Kerrie Waring, CEO, International Corporate Governance Network, Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC, Gilbert Van Hassel, CEO, Robeco & 90 academics

Business & finance leaders, backed by over 90 academics, sign letter in support of EU agenda on sustainable corporate governance incl. mandatory due diligence

9 March 2021

As leaders in business, investment and financial institutions, and academia we welcome and encourage efforts in jurisdictions around the world to take action to embed the concept of sustainable development in corporate governance law, codes and initiatives.

Business sustainability, sustainable finance, corporate purpose and long-term value creation must begin with company boards and the systems of governance under which companies operate.

Director organisations have recognised the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to accelerate progress towards Paris and Sustainable Development Goals. To be able to do so, it is crucial that directors positively orientate towards long-term value creation rather than short-term profit maximisation for the company.

Business organisations have committed to move away from the concept of shareholder primacy towards fully addressing sustainability and ensuring that no stakeholders are significantly harmed. Although the law already provides Board members with wide discretion when making decisions on behalf of the company on sustainability issues, incentives within existing corporate governance models too often prevent them from taking concrete steps to act on these intentions.

These moves are also supported by many investors who insist that companies include environmental, social and governance considerations in their risk management. 

Unless and until the systems of corporate governance are reformed to reflect these challenges, they will act as countervailing forces against achieving sustainability objectives...

This is not simply about businesses adopting sustainability reporting or strategy, but about corporate governance systems redirecting focus towards how companies create and preserve value – for themselves and their stakeholders.

We express our support for the current European Commission examination and consultation on proposals for sustainable corporate governance, focusing on Board oversight, mandatory due diligence and aligning Board and executive remuneration to sustainability objectives. We agree that this initiative is essential to implement the EU’s Green Deal and its Sustainable Finance action plan. 

We call on all in the business community to express support for these developments..