Research: Boards Still Have an ESG Expertise Gap — But They’re Improving

The role of U.S. public boards in managing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues has significantly evolved over the past five years. Initially, boards were largely unprepared to handle materially financial ESG topics, lacking the necessary background and credentials. However, recent developments show a positive shift, with the percentage of Fortune 100 board members possessing relevant ESG credentials rising from 29% to 43%. This increase is primarily in environmental and governance credentials, while social credentials have seen less growth. Despite this progress, major gaps remain, particularly in climate change and worker welfare expertise. Notably, the creation of dedicated ESG/sustainability committees has surged, promoting better oversight of sustainability issues. This shift is crucial as companies increasingly face both regulatory pressures and strategic opportunities in transitioning to a low carbon economy.

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