OPINION: Top ten? Board-member checklist tests stakeholder engagement

How effective is your board in meeting ‘future customer’ and  stakeholder needs? Sustainability First has developed a check-list for the boards of energy companies to use to assess that question.
  1. Within your corporate structure, is it clear where responsibility sits for current and future UK customer needs across each part of the ownership chain?
  2. How does your board demonstrate due consideration to ethical behaviour and how to deal with different interests? 
  3. How are you strategically engaging with your customers and wider stakeholders to ensure your board risk appetite is appropriately aligned with the public interest and your risk framework captures resulting issues?
  4. Does your board have an agreed set of criteria as to what it means to be a ‘respected corporate citizen’ (eg in terms of gearing, tax etc).  Does it assess how it measures up against these?
  5. What is your board doing to move from a focus on compliance to embrace the spirit of Section 172 of the Companies Act and act as long-term stewards for the company and the sector?
  6. Are you developing ‘safe spaces’ regulator and sector dialogue, to discuss difficult issues such as company autonomy, systemic issues and wider sector responsibility?
  7. What is your board doing to create effective feedback loops to link the different parts of the complex system in which you operate?
  8. Does your board have the appropriate skill-mix to understand current and future customer and wider stakeholder needs and does director induction sufficiently cover these issues?
  9. How does your board set ‘the tone from the top’ to ensure that public interest values percolate through your business, that staff are engaged on these issues and that reward and recognition practices take these into account?
  10. The public is increasingly open to radical and new ideas for the energy and water sectors. How does your board address not just opportunity, but also ‘difficult’ risks (eg public ownership, difficult relationships etc)?
To discuss what this means for you and your team, please contact Sustainability First’s director, Sharon Darcy, at [email protected]