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U.S. Boards Lag on Sustainability

Author: Marcy Murninghan - Principal, Transition Group [USA], Published on: 26 July 2010

Despite rapidly changing financial regulations, the emergence of coherent global standards for disclosure, and a record breaking year for sustainability shareholder resolutions, most American firms fall short [on integrating sustainability into their boards' role as overseers]. According to a new report by The Conference Board, most public companies fail to embed a sustainability framework into board oversight... Author Matteo Tonello, director of corporate governance research, says, “In particular, what appears to be largely missing is access to independent sources of information as well as the detailed procedures and metrics for effectively integrating social objectives into daily business activities.”... Tonello summarized the study by observing that “Directors mostly rely on reports by senior executives...and almost never use additional sources... For most companies, sustainability discussions with the board only take place in reaction to emergency situations like the oil spill in the Gulf.”

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