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Is CSR on your board’s agenda?

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SmartPulse — our nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Sustainability — tracks feedback from more than 18,000 CSR leaders. This week’s analysis is provided by Susan McPherson, senior vice president at Fenton.

Last week we asked: Is corporate social responsibility and sustainability on the agenda of your company’s board of directors?

  • Yes, definitely, 41.51%
  • Possibly, but I’m not sure, 16.98%
  • Not yet, but it could be within the next year 13.21%
  • Definitely not and there is no sign of it becoming an agenda item any time soon, 28.3%

A 2008 survey* of 220 directors at U.S. companies with $1 billion or more in revenue found that despite the current economic environment, corporate boards of directors had taken on a growing role in overseeing the risks and opportunities associated with corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) and climate change. In this poll in SmartBrief on Sustainability, I was pleased to find that more than 40% of respondents were confident that their board were making CSR a priority. However, the high number of those who responded there was no sign of it becoming a board agenda item was indeed alarming. In today’s business world, where we are constantly presented with data that helps prove sustainability leads to economic improvement and a more stable employment base, why wouldn’t boards be taking the practice seriously? With repeated studies demonstrating the challenges we will face due to climate change, loss of biodiversity and a global population growing exponentially, it’s difficult to fathom any board that would not make corporate responsibility a top issue on its agenda.

* The survey was commissioned by Deloitte, a worldwide provider of audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management and tax services, and conducted via e-mail in August 2008 by Corporate Board Member magazine.