Canadian Managers Magazine / Fall 2023 - Issue 4, Vol. 47 / Article 6

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Business Corporation Board of Director's Role in ESG

The fusion of interdisciplinary insights into the role of the board of directors includes assessing the ethical issues in governance. It is in the context of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices that offers a nuanced understanding of how ethical standards and measures are integrated. This article focuses on the intricate dimensions of the board's involvement in ESG. It explores the ethical imperatives that guide their decisions and actions. Examining viewpoints from diverse disciplines illustrates the significance of ethical considerations in business decisions. It is in the purview of shaping responsible and sustainable business behaviour within the ESG framework.

By Ernesto Cordero, C.Mgr. | Chartered Managers Canada



Ethics serves as the moral scope for ESG practices and the ethical foundation of ESG. It encompasses environmental responsibility, social equity, and transparent governance. The ethical continuously emphasizes that ESG is not just about compliance. It also embodies principles that align with societal values and long-term well-being. Ethical considerations underscore the importance of integrating sustainable practices that resonate with stakeholders and contribute positively to the broader community.

The board of directors is pivotal as the custodian of the company's ethical identity within ESG. The role of the Corporate Board of Directors is beyond their fiduciary obligations. Boards are crucial in shaping the ethical culture and ensuring that ethical considerations are woven into the organization's fabric. This stewardship extends to overseeing ESG strategies that reflect the company's commitment to ethical values. The whole corporate structure adopts and incorporates ethics as a primary reference for present and future directions of business decisions.

A critical function of the board is assessing and integrating ethical standards and measures within the ESG framework. It involves evaluating how the company's practices align with ethical imperatives and identifying areas where improvements are needed. The board's role in assessing ethical standards is instrumental in holding the organization accountable for its impact on the environment, society, and governance practices.

Ethical considerations in ESG necessitate the board's navigation of diverse stakeholder interests, balancing stakeholder interests. From employees to shareholders, communities to regulators, ethical decisions involve striking a balance between competing demands. The board's task is to ensure that ethical standards guide decisions that optimize value for stakeholders while adhering to principles of transparency and fairness.

Ethical standards serve as an integral component of risk management within ESG by embedding ethics in risk management. Boards are tasked with identifying and addressing risks with ethical implications, ranging from reputational harm due to unsustainable practices to potential legal liabilities stemming from inadequate governance. Integrating ethics into risk assessment enables the board to adopt an initiative-taking stance in mitigating potential consequences.

An interdisciplinary approach enriches the board's understanding of ESG by merging insights from various domains, primarily ethics, including governance, economics, and environmental science. This convergence enables the board to grasp the complexity of ethical challenges. And the interconnectedness of ESG pillars and other disciplines in business decisions. An interdisciplinary lens empowers the board of directors to make informed decisions. It accounts for the full implications of the boards' actions and inactions.

The interdisciplinary perspective on the business board's role in ESG underscores the paramount importance of ethical considerations in shaping responsible and sustainable business practices. By harmonizing ethical standards within the ESG framework, boards cultivate organizational principles that exceed short-term gains in favor of long-term value creation. In an increasingly interconnected world, where ethical lapses can reverberate globally, boards are responsible for upholding ethical principles that align with ESG imperatives, fostering business success, societal well-being, and environmental stewardship.

About the Author:

By: Prof. Ernesto O. Cordero, C.Mgr., Ph.D; Fellow, Royal Society of Arts, MICD, Post-Doctorate (Ph.D.) Research Scholar in Interdisciplinary on Contemporary Social Issues, Saint Paul University Ottawa/ University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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