The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), in collaboration with DNV GL, has issued a survey aimed at gathering insights into how stakeholder engagement, materiality and risk management can support board-level decision-making.
The joint initiative between WBCSD and DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company, will seek insights to better assess how boards can connect with stakeholders, and how those insights align with long-term value creation and integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts and dependencies within the overall governance structure.
The survey is global, but Australian companies - both listed and private - are encouraged to participate in the survey, said Andrew Petersen, CEO of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSDA).
"There have been a number of calls for governance to change, whether that's been the introduction of the [Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures] TCFD, the rethinking of climate risk, the recommendations of the Hayne Royal Commissions, even the findings of the 2018 ASIC review," Petersen said. "It's very much a case of how can a board improve the effectiveness of engaging with stakeholders to support better decision-making.
"... It goes to the heart of the basis of what is a company in the 21st century, and also pragmatically, what is their social license to operate."
The survey is part of WBCSD's Governance and Internal Oversight project and aims to deliver a better understanding of ways in which boards are connecting with stakeholders; insight into how effective means of collecting information from stakeholders can be used to inform strategic decision making and other business processes; and practical solutions for boards on how they can improve their engagement and relationships with stakeholders.
"I think there's an appetite in the business community to be more accountable and transparent in risk areas going forward, and what they need are the signals from employees, investors and the wider community," Petersen said. "There is also an element of competitive advantage going on. It goes to the issue of social license to operate, and more broadly, they're eager to show a more nuanced and complete picture of where the value of their future business lies, rather than just the pure financial numbers, which are challenging for even the best run companies."
Participation in the survey is open to all businesses, not just those that are WBCSD members, Petersen said.
"Governance is evolving fast and investors alongside other stakeholders are demanding greater transparency and improved accountability," said Mario Abela, director, Redefining Value Program at WBCSD. "Sustainable value creation requires companies to manage business performance to ensure the long-term viability of the business. Taking into account the needs of all stakeholders is essential to ensure the long-term success of a company?s business model. We encourage you to complete this survey, which will serve as evidence to support our development of guidance for boards on how they improve their engagement with stakeholders to support long-term value creation."