Ron Soonieus is a Senior Advisor for Boston Consulting Group’s Social Impact practice. He also serves as Director in Residence at INSEAD, and is a non-executive director at the University of the Arts in the Netherlands.
Ron’s focus and expertise mostly involve integrating sustainability and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) into corporate strategy, governance, and culture. He has worked with clients to fill executive and non-executive boards in sustainability and ESG. Ron works with clients to help them develop a culture of purpose and adopt a sustainable corporate mindset and behaviors.
In his appointment as Director in Residence at INSEAD, Ron researches and teaches about the role of the board in sustainability and ESG.
Boards are not carving out time for high-value strategic work when it comes to environmental, social, and governance. And that’s a problem for companies pushing for sustainability.
In Wagner’s Opera Siegfried, the eponymous hero forges a sword to replace an old-culture weapon that has shattered. Mime, the greatest blacksmith of the old culture, is incapable of forging this new sword.
The idea of sustainability is gaining traction in the boardroom. But a vast gap remains between the few directors who know how to integrate it into the heart of their organization’s activities and the many who are taking a more check-a-box approach.
In this report, we look at how well, and indeed whether, sustainability issues are being understood at board level. Drawing on the BA findings and on 25 interviews with non-executive board members, we focus on three key aspects of the problem: What are boards really saying about sustainability? What are the obstacles to them taking more effective action? What changes should be made by boards so that their companies respond more effectively to sustainability challenges?
Driving sustainable business practices in companies requires involvement from boards of directors. And there is some evidence that sustainability is rising up the board agenda. Many board members today have the right aspirations, but there is a substantial gap between those aspirations and the capacity of their boards and firms to deliver.