Call to Action on Sustainable Corporate Governance

As leaders in business, investment and financial institutions, and academia we welcome and encourage efforts in jurisdictions around the world to take action to embed the concept of sustainable development in corporate governance law, codes and initiatives.

Business sustainability, sustainable finance, corporate purpose and long-term value creation must begin with company boards and the systems of governance under which companies operate.

Director organisations have recognised the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to accelerate progress towards Paris and Sustainable Development Goals. To be able to do so, it is crucial that directors positively orientate towards long-term value creation rather than short-term profit maximisation for the company.

Business organisations have committed to move away from the concept of shareholder primacy towards fully addressing sustainability and ensuring that no stakeholders are significantly harmed.  Although the law already provides Board members with wide discretion when making decisions on behalf of the company on sustainability issues, incentives within existing corporate governance models too often prevent them from taking concrete steps to act on these intentions.

These moves are also supported by many investors who insist that companies include environmental, social and governance considerations in their risk management. 

Unless and until the systems of corporate governance are reformed to reflect these challenges, they will act as countervailing forces against achieving sustainability objectives. 

As we are nearing the point of no return in the climate crisis, the time has come to act.

This is not simply about businesses adopting sustainability reporting or strategy, but about corporate governance systems redirecting focus towards how companies create and preserve value – for themselves and their stakeholders.

We express our support for the current European Commission examination and consultation on proposals for sustainable corporate governance, focusing on Board oversight, mandatory due diligence and aligning Board and executive remuneration to sustainability objectives. We agree that this initiative is essential to implement the EU’s Green Deal and its Sustainable Finance action plan. 

We call on all in the business community to express support for these developments, recognising that, far from being preconceived, the notion of sustainable corporate governance has been evolving for a long time, from the very first King code more than twenty years ago right up to current actions on sustainable finance. 

Sustainable corporate governance can become integral to post-Covid economic recovery, not just in Europe but around the world. We point to clear research findings that sustainable corporate performance equates with better long-term value-creation for the company, encompassed in the concept of sustainable competitiveness.

In conclusion, we affirm that the size of the transformation required in our economy towards sustainability, must include the way in which companies are governed. This stands amongst the root causes of today’s unsustainable business practices. There is a pressing need for comprehensive corporate governance frameworks to achieve true business sustainability. 

Yours sincerely, 

Professor Mervyn King S.C., IIRC Chair Emeritus and author of King corporate governance codes

Paul Polman, Co-Founder & Chair, IMAGINE (former CEO of Unilever)

Kerrie Waring, CEO, International Corporate Governance Network

Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC

Gilbert Van Hassel, CEO, Robeco 

Full list of corporate governance academic and expert supporters:

Bob Tricker, Professor

Robert G. Eccles, Visiting Professor, University of Oxford

Gerald Davis, Professor, University of Michigan

Ioannis Ioannou, Associate Professor, London Business School

Armand Hatchuel, Professor, Mines ParisTech, PSL Research University

Blanche Segrestin, Professor, Mines ParisTech, PSL Research University

Jean-Philippe Robé, Senior Lecturer, Sciences Po Paris

Alan Dignam, Professor, Queen Mary University of London

Alan Meyer, Emeritus Professor, University of Oregon 

Alessia Contu, Professor, University of Massachusetts

Allen White, Senior Fellow, Tellus Institute

Andreas Jansson, Associate Professor, Jönköping University

Andreas Rühmkorf, Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield

Andrew Johnston, Professor, University of Warwick

Andrew Pendleton, Professor, UNSW Australia 

Arkadiusz Radwan, President, Allerhand Institute – Professor, Vytautas Magnus University Kaunas

Bart Jansen, PhD Candidate Nyenrode Business University, Lecturer Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, and Airlangga University Surabaya

Bertrand Valiorgue, Professor, Clermont Auvergne University

Brendan K. O’Rourke, Senior Lecturer, TU Dublin – Founder Director, Business, Society and Sustainability Research Centre, TU Dublin

Bronwen Morgan, Professor, UNSW Sydney

Carol Liao, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Carrie Bradshaw, Lecturer, University of Leeds

Charlotte Villiers, Professor, University of Bristol

Chris Rees, Professor, University of London

Ciarán O’Kelly, Lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast

Cynthia Williams, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

David Collison, Emeritus Professor, University of Dundee

David J. Cooper, Emeritus Professor, University of Alberta

Dionysia Katelouzou, Senior Lecturer, King’s College London

Emilio Marti, Assistant Professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erik Breen, Managing Director, Infinsus

Florence Palpacuer, Professor, University of Montpellier

Frank Partnoy, Professor, UC Berkeley School of Law

Heidi Rapp Nilsen, Associate Professor, NTNU

Herman van den Bosch, Professor, Open Universiteit

Hugh Willmott, Professor, Cass Business School 

Irene Lynch Fannon, Professor, University College Cork

Iris H-Y Chiu, Professor, University College London

Ismael Al-Amoudi, Professor, Université Grenoble-Alpes

Ismail Ertürk, Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester

Jaakko Salminen, Assistant Professor, Copenhagen Business School – Docent, University of Turku, University of Helsinki

Jason Glynos, Professor, University of Essex

Jay Cullen, Professor, University of York 

Jean Du Plessis, Professor, Deakin University

Jean-Pierre Chanteau, Assistant Professor, Université Grenoble-Alpes

Jeroen Veldman, Visiting Professor, Mines Paristech, Interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation – Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow, Cass Business School

Jonathan Mukwiri, Associate Professor, Durham University

Juan Felipe Espinosa-Cristia, Researcher, Universidad Andres Bello

Katerina Mitkidis, Associate Professor, Aarhus University

Keith Robson, Professor, HEC Paris 

Kent Greenfield, Professor of Law, Boston College Law School

Kevin Tennent, Senior Lecturer, University of York

Laurent Taskin, Professor, UCLouvain

Leen Paape, Professor, Nyenrode Business University

Lela Mélon, Executive Director, Planetary Wellbeing Institutional Framework Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Machiko Nissanke, Emeritus Professor, SOAS, University of London

Maria Aluchna, Professor, SGH Warsaw School of Economics

Maureen McCulloch, Senior Lecturer, Oxford Brookes University

Michael Pirson, Professor, Fordham University 

Nabil Harfoush, Associate Professor, OCAD University – Visiting Associate Professor, Harvard University

Navajyoti Samanta, Lecturer, University of Sheffield

Neil Lancastle, Senior Lecturer, De Montfort University

Nicolette Loonen, Founding Partner, TOSCA Tribe of Sustainability Change Agents

Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor, The New School

Nina Boeger, Reader, University of Bristol

Nitasha Kaul, Associate Professor, University of Westminster

Ofer Sitbon, Associate Professor, Zefat Academic College – Head of the Corporation & Society Legal Clinic, College of Law & Business, Ramat-Gan

Prem Sikka, Professor, Essex Business School

Pushpika Vishwanathan, Assistant Professor, University of Amsterdam

Richard Hull, MA Director, Goldsmiths, University of London

Rick Wartzman, Head of the KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society, Drucker Institute

Roger Brown, Emeritus Professor, Liverpool Hope University

Rory Ridley-Duff, Professor, Sheffield Hallam University

Roy Heesakkers, Doctorate Researcher, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Rutger Claassen, Professor, Utrecht University

Scott Taylor, Associate Professor, University of Birmingham

Simon Deakin, Professor, University of Cambridge 

Simon Lilley, Professor, University of Leicester

Sheena Vachhani, Reader (Associate Professor), University of Bristol

Steven Montagu-Cairns, Lecturer, University of Leeds

Stuart Schmidt, Professor Emeritus, Fox School of Business and Management

Sue Konzelmann, Reader, Birkbeck, University of London

Susan Watson, Professor, University of Auckland

Tanweer Ali, Lecturer, State University of New York

Thomas Clarke, Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Timothy Kuhn, Professor, University of Colorado Boulder

Todd L. Sayre, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco

Vincenzo Bavoso, Lecturer, The University of Manchester

Wei Shen, Professor, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Wendy L. Currie, Professor, Audencia Business School

Willy Maley, Professor, University of Glasgow

Michael Laviolette, Associate Prof. Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Hans Schenk, Emeritus Professor of Economic, Utrecht University

Susana Velez-Castrillon, Associate Professor of Management, Richards College of Business

Xenia Karametaxas, Lecturer, University of Zurich

Michele Siri, Professor, University of Genoa – Director EUSFIL Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Finance and Law, University of Genoa

Walter Jarvis, Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney – Director, UTS Master of Management

Catherine Delanghe, Founder and Managing Director, Centre de Bonne Gouvernance Paul Tassin

David Jacobs, Adjunct Professor, American University

Miguel Castañeda Loayza, CEO, Catalyst Sustainability Graduate School

Manel Atserias Luque, Founder, Instituto de Salud Mental de la Abogacía – Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions (ISMA-MHILP)

Rachel Widdis, Assistant Professor Adjunct, School of Law, Trinity College Dublin

Dawa Sherpa, Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Alexandre Di Miceli da Silveira, Professor, Alvares Penteado School of Business

Melissa Scanlan, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Ivan Tchotourian, Professor, Laval University

Laura Horn, Associate Professor, Roskilde University

Martin Petrin, Professor, University College London and Western University

Lorraine Talbot, Professor, Birmingham Law School

Gilles J Martin, Emeritus Professor, UCA”

Ewan McGaughey, Reader, King’s College London

Remko Renes, Assistant Professor, Nyenrode Business Universiteit

Riccardo Sallustio, Adjunct Professor of Green and Sustainable Finance, LUISS Guido

A special thanks goes to Professor Jeroen Veldman (Visiting Professor, Mines Paristech, Interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation – Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow, Cass Business School) and Professor Andrew Johnston (Professor, University of Warwick), who as well as supporting the open letter, facilitated and coordinated the engagement of the above signatories.

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