Leadership perspectives: Next steps for boards on sustainability

Leadership perspectives: Next steps for boards on sustainability

Heidrick & Struggles’ Jeremy Hanson speaks to NASDAQ’s Mike Stiller about what boards need to do to prepare themselves and future-proof their companies against climate change risks.

In this next installment in our Leadership Perspectives series, Heidrick & Struggles’ Jeremy Hanson speaks to Mike Stiller, the global head of the ESG Advisory & Engagement Practice at NASDAQ, about how boards are prioritizing sustainability, particularly climate change. There is still a fair amount of skepticism on boards, Stiller says, that climate change is relevant to all businesses, and many boards have under-invested in climate-related knowledge. This tracks with a recent Heidrick & Struggles and INSEAD survey in which 85% of board members surveyed said their board needs to increase its knowledge on climate change. (For more, see Changing the Climate in the Boardroom.)

In addition to increasing their climate change knowledge, boards need to figure out how to organize that knowledge on the board and develop a clear sense of how stakeholders and regulators will measure their performance on climate-related issues, Hanson says. He also notes that access to capital is fast becoming an issue, particularly in high carbon-emitting industries—companies are having a harder time retaining people and customers, and within a year or two, he says, leaders may face real difficulty borrowing money, insuring their companies, and attracting a strong and steady investor base.

Finally, Stiller shares three steps boards should be taking right now: upskilling either the whole board or select members to increase climate-related skills, undergoing a climate-readiness assessment, and doing a full assessment of the board’s current skills matrix to understand where the gaps exist.

About the interviewer

Jeremy Hanson (jhanson@heidrick.com) is a partner in Heidrick & Struggles' Chicago office and a member of the CEO & Board Practice.

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