Lise Kingo featured in GreenBiz: What it really means to integrate ESG across the business

Lise Kingo featured in GreenBiz: What it really means to integrate ESG across the business

Everywhere I go there seems to be unanimous consensus that the answer to how to anchor ESG is integration: Fully integrating ESG in the business model of the company and ensuring that environmental, social and governance issues are considered across the board.

But the devil is always in the detail, so the question is what it really means to integrate ESG across the business. There might be many answers to this question, but in my mind, there is only one efficient way forward, which is a full and complete integration.

ESG starts with strategy, not with reporting

ESG must be anchored first at the strategic level in the purpose, governance and corporate strategy of the company. Next, it must be cascaded across the organization into research and development, production, quality management, training, remuneration and corporate finance, etc. Finally, it must be layered into stakeholder activities such as reporting, marketing and partnerships. Producing an integrated ESG report is great, as long as it is the means to the end — and not the other way around. Start with strategy, not with reporting.

Go for it fully or fail

ESG could be compared to digitalization, which emerged as the big new theme for boards and business executives 10 years ago. Just like ESG, digitalization does not work unless it is fully integrated into strategy, operations and company culture. Companies will not get return on investments unless full integration has succeeded. Top management needs to fully go for it 100 percent or else it will fail.

Where to anchor ESG governance

These days, one hot topic is how to best anchor ESG in the governance model. Some businesses are establishing a specific board sustainability committee; others are integrating climate change and sustainability into existing board committees such as the audit, nominations or governance committees, which is how a company such as Sanofi has decided to anchor the agenda.

Other companies are adjusting the annual wheel to ensure that more time is allocated on the main board to dig into ESG issues, which is the case for Aker Horizons in Norway, a planet positive investment company with an ambition to invest $117 billion in the energy transition before 2025. Companies including Unilever, Nike, Danone and Equinor that have had board sustainability committees for years are being followed by many other companies such as Covestro, which want to ensure that significant focus is spent on the sustainable business agenda.

Each solution might work very well, depending on the nature and strategy of the company. The main dilemma is to ensure that each company makes an informed choice and selects a model that is truly able to help drive the sustainability transformation of the business in the right direction fast.

The alpha and omega of this is whether the company at its highest level of governance has decided to go for a 100 percent full integration of ESG. If yes, you’re all set to go.

Read the article from GreenBiz here.

The meaning of integrating ESG

ESG has become the new black of corporate business. On the backdrop of the latest IPCC report from the UN, weather disasters during the recent months and with COP26 in Glasgow coming up in November, many executives and boards are grappling with how to anchor strategic thinking on climate change and sustainable business more broadly in their existing governance set up.

Everywhere I go there seems to be unanimous consensus that the answer to how to anchor ESG is integration: Fully integrating ESG in the business model of the company and ensuring that environmental, social and governance issues are considered across the board. But the devil is always in the detail, so the question is what it really means to integrate ESG across the business. There might be many answers to this question, but in my mind, there is only one efficient way forward which is a full and complete integration.

ESG starts with strategy – not with reporting

ESG must be anchored first at the strategic level in the purpose, governance and corporate strategy of the company. Next, cascaded across the organisation into R&D, production, quality management, training, remuneration, Corporate Finance, etc. And finally, into stakeholder activities such as reporting, marketing and partnerships. Producing an integrated ESG report is great, as long as it is the means to the end – and not the other way around. Start with strategy – not with reporting.

Go for it 100%, or fail

ESG could be compared to digitalisation that emerged as the big new theme for boards and business executives 10 years ago. Just like ESG, digitalisation does not work unless it is fully integrated into strategy, operations, and company culture. Companies will not get return on investments unless full integration has succeeded. Top Management needs to fully go for it 100%, or else it will fail.

Where to anchor ESG governance

These days one of the hot topics is how to best anchor ESG in the governance model. Some businesses are establishing a specific board sustainability committee, others are integrating climate change and sustainability into existing board committees such as the audit, nominations, or governance committees. Other companies are adjusting the annual wheel to ensure that more time is allocated on the main board to dig into ESG issues.

Each of these solutions might work very well, depending on the nature and strategy of the company.

The main point is to ensure that each company makes an informed choice and selects a model that is truly able to help drive the sustainability transformation of the business in the right direction fast. The alfa and omega of this is if the company – at its highest level of governance – has decided to go for a 100% full integration of ESG – or not. If yes, you’re all set to go.

Read the full article on LinkedIn here.

Leading in a fundamentally changing world

“What is responsible leadership?

That’s the big question that takes center stage at the recent annual conference hosted by Imperial College Business School. It is the first time I have spoken in my capacity as chair of the advisory board of Imperial’s new Leonardo Centre, a research facility for sustainable business, which will formally launch in June. With this cross-disciplinary, multi-faculty and stakeholder-oriented center of excellence, the Leonardo Centre is setting out to explore what defines the new logic of business enterprise and the new type of responsible business leadership the world needs in this Decade of Action.

I am stepping into this role in the hope that we can close the gap between rhetoric and action and promote a radical rethink of the role of board directors and C-suite leaders as drivers for sustainable change.”

Read the full article from GreenBiz here.

In need of a new Renaissance

In need of a new Renaissance

I was educated in the classics – in Greek and Roman culture and philosophy. That’s likely why the renaissance has always fascinated me. The renaissance marked a rediscovery of Greek and Roman ideals, including the writings of Roman stateman, philosopher and scholar Cicero, who spoke of the moral duty of the state to govern in harmony with the universal principles of nature, and in accordance with the principles of equality, liberty and rule of law – principles that have inspired modern democracies and provided the tenets of the United Nations.   

The human race is extraordinary for its resilience. In fact, throughout the ages, some of the greatest leaps forward for humanity have happened after deep and enduring crises.

The renaissance took off from the devastating impacts of the bubonic plague. It was a rebirth of knowledge and reason and changed the world in just about every way we can think. To make sense of the world – of light and shadow, the human anatomy, the laws of gravity, of cosmos and how we fit in: The coming together of art, philosophy and science collectively pushed the boundaries of what we know and what we can achieve.

It’s time for a re-birth of knowledge and reason

I am hopeful that while COVID-19 has rocked our foundation as a global community, it has also brought a new sense of enlightenment: Of the urgent need to transform the way we consume, invest and live together as a global society. 

We need a return to knowledge and reason anchored in the laws of nature and founded on the principles of putting every person’s freedoms and rights first. Importantly, we need to come together with a new sense of discovery and curiosity in search of new logics of enterprise. These new logics need to establish that economies thrive when humanity thrives. That humanity can only prosper when the planet and everything living thrives. That the success of all of us hinges upon our ability to leave no one behind. That business wins when society wins.

We are at an inflection point

I am by nature an optimist: I truly believe that we are at an inflection point. Just last week, the G7 leaders met in Cornwall to accelerate their ambitions for climate, nature and a resilient global economy that will deliver prosperity and wellbeing for all people. They emphasized the power of democracy, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights to answer the biggest questions and overcome the greatest challenges.

This is a return to reason and a wake-up call. In the lead-up to COP26, many of the world’s largest and most influential businesses are committing to decarbonize their value and supply chains. And investors and stakeholders are challenging the greatest CO2 emitters to significantly raise their ambition.

A crucial role for science and learning

In a fast-changing world, we need to learn fast. Collectively.

That’s also why now is the time for academic institutions to step up. They need to help us challenge the status quo, to point us in the direction of the next horizon of possibilities. Conversely, academia needs to bring the experience and pragmatism of business into their labs. Together, we can discover a new logic of enterprise that can catalyze capitalism and economic systems to deliver the world we want. We can experiment to make business models circular, regenerative, net-zero and socially inclusive. And we can shape the leadership ideals that embody the values and traits which can accelerate the transformation.

The Leonardo Centre on Business for Society

Leonardo da Vinci said: “Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else”.

This week, Imperial College London are launching their new Leonardo Centre on Business for Society. Not surprisingly, renaissance-man Leonardo da Vinci has inspired this new initiative. 

The Leonardo Centre is an open invitation to the most pioneering and forward-looking businesses to de-learn and re-learn how to see the role of business in a changing world; to co-create and experiment together with some of the world’s leading minds and innovators in search for new practices and solutions. The Centre will provide a strong platform for combining business experience and scientific research in search of new logics of enterprise for the world want.

As the Chair of the Advisory Board of Leonardo, I am excited about the mission of the Centre, and grateful to the leadership of Imperial for their vision and foresight. I am convinced that initiatives like these, born out of the academic tradition, could spark a new renaissance of knowledge and reason anchored in universal humanistic values.

Read the full article on LinkedIn here.

ESG has become a strategic leadership agenda

“These days many global executives are waking up to a new ESG reality: investors and shareholders expect them to better manage their ESG risks as systemic conditions for their companies in a changing world; stakeholders reward brands that proactively contribute to fairer, more sustainable and regenerative futures, and legislators require businesses to disclose how.”

Read the full article here.

Lise Kingo joins the Supervisory Board at Covestro

Lise Kingo joins the Supervisory Board at Covestro

Lise Kingo is honoured and delighted to join the Supervisory Board at Covestro: “I have known Covestro for several years as a very inspiring role model for how to integrate sustainability into business strategy. I am honoured to bring my expertise and help take the company to the next level of implementing a fully circular business strategy.”

Read more here.

The time has come for climate competent Board Directors

There is never a dull moment in the board room. The world is changing at an incredible pace and in the midst of the pandemic, global executives are ranking climate change the most serious societal threat to their business over the next decade according to Deloitte, the WEF Risk Report and many other sources.

Read the full blogpost from Boards Impact Forum here.