Diligent: Riding the waves of stakeholder capitalism – keeping the board up to speed on ESG

By Business & Finance
21 September 2023

Digitisation and globalisation have fundamentally altered, and expanded, the type and scope of topics directors need to consider as they discharge their fiduciary duties.

Partner content from Diligent.

The pace of change in modern business is so fast that today’s boards operate in an environment that would be unrecognisable twenty years ago. Digitisation and globalisation have fundamentally altered, and expanded, the type and scope of topics directors need to consider as they discharge their fiduciary duties.

We are in a prolonged period of intense volatility; climate pressures, economic uncertainty, and geopolitical tension are all putting pressure on businesses. Alongside rapid technological and political change, shifting socio-economic ideals are prompting organisations to adjust their corporate values to attract the talent and investment needed to ride the turbulence.

As governments, financial institutions, regulators and businesses seek to build stability in this changing landscape, environment, social and governance (ESG) factors have risen up the agenda. The idea that a company’s long-term prospects are solely based on financial performance has been rejected in favour of a more holistic view based on its preparedness to mitigate emerging risks and capitalise on opportunities. 

To support this shift, regulators and financial exchanges are ramping up focus on ESG in reporting. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) came into force in Europe at the start of 2023, while the SEC’s climate disclosure rules are squarely on the horizon.

Consequently, today’s directors must have a sound working knowledge of a broad range of topics and the appetite to learn more at short notice.

Bringing data to the board

However, ensuring directors are sufficiently informed across the full range of environmental, social and governance factors is a daunting task.

On the plus side there’s a wealth of data available, but on the minus side, there’s almost too much. Every business unit, supplier, and partner, generates reams of data related to their own performance in relation to the company. From carbon emissions data to waste management, health and safety performance to employee relations, there is a deluge of data to collect. The problem is that it is typically sitting in siloes, managed with spreadsheets, and hard to analyse in a meaningful way. 

On top of that, there is a wealth of external data – including competitor disclosures – that can be used to provide vital context and assist decision-making. The challenge for both internal and external data is collecting it, analysing it, and presenting it to the board in a digestible way.

Streamlining data collection and analysis to help boards gain clarity on the business’s position is a challenge Diligent has strived to solve throughout its history. Recognising the immense scale and scope of ESG data reporting, we have developed a new tool, Board Reporting for ESG, that collects, analyses and presents performance data and market intelligence in an accessible dashboard format so boards can see the company’s ESG posture at a glance. It provides an efficient way to capture climate data and compare against peer companies. Crucially, it delivers reports in an easy-to-understand format, creating a clear narrative around the data that brings it to life for key stakeholders.

For today’s directors, tasked with staying up to date on so many different topics and understanding what they it means for the business, this is a compelling solution. It enables them to quickly assimilate information, get a shortcut to the key insights, and move on to the important strategic decisions that they must make as a result.

When directors have access to accurate, real-time information on their company’s ESG posture, it puts them in a stronger position to guide the business in response to rapidly emerging challenges. Digitising ESG from the business to the board is an important step in empowering boards to navigate turbulent times.