Social-Good Deficiency?


Do we just lack the wherewithal to do the right thing?

There have been calls from large investors and others to push directors to consider the greater good for society. And we've been giving it a lot of ink in our pages, including a cover package on environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) in the last issue of Directors & Boards.

The latest ESG push came from BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink sending an ultimatum to corporations across the country to make social good part of the overall business strategy plans or else. (We address this in our shareholder engagement article in this issue.)

Last year, a host of institutional investors, including State Street, made getting more women on boards a rallying cry. The firm even erected a statue of a young girl staring down Wall Street's charging bull. It became a global female-power icon.

Alas, there seems to always be a don't-throwstones-if-you-live-in-a-glass-house moment.

Turns out, BlackRock has investments in companies that are drilling in the Amazon, according to the nonprofit Amazon Watch. State Street faced a huge embarrassment last year when a gender-pay discrimination settlement by the firm went public.

Aside from what could be viewed as investor hypocrisy, there's a general lack of knowledge among corporate leaders when it comes to how they can play an ESG role.

A recent Deloitte survey of 1,600 C-level executives around the globe found that "less than a quarter of those surveyed believe their own organizations hold much influence over critical factors such as education, sustainability and social mobility."

The reality is executives and directors are going to have to figure out how they and...

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