Board members must think like activists

By mathew-loup

Change is everywhere. Issues go from economic and environmental to societal and technological, with more along the way. For board directors to keep pace, they need to shift their mindsets and think more like the activists at the gates (or front desks). 

“Climate change, inequality and racism have the potential to endanger organizations,” says Harvey Schacter in a recent piece for The Globe and Mail that highlights these tensions. Schachter also drew inspiration from Stewards of the Future: A Guide for Competent Boards, written by our very own Helle Bank Jorgensen

“Board members assumed for many years that shareholder activists and special interest advocacy groups inhabited another world, and that they would simply have to tolerate discussion of a climate change or social justice proposal at the annual meeting,” wrote Helle. “However, attitudes and expectations have changed, especially among employees and consumers younger than the baby boomers who still call most of the shots around boardroom tables. Activism has now reached the boardroom, and it will not be going away soon.”

Boards need to ask more specific questions:

  • How often does your board discuss different scenarios that may affect your business in the future? 
  • How often do you discuss whether management has the necessary expertise and resources to respond to a disruptive environment? 
  • How do you know if your corporate culture encourages sustainability and the overall purposes you have set for the company?

Global sustainability standards are coming soon to a boardroom near you. They can’t say they weren’t warned.

Read the full article: How boards can transform to meet the stresses of the time
Mathew Loup is Competent Boards’ Director, Marketing & Communications. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Board members must think like activists
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