Social-Good Deficiency?

Directors & Boards Magazine calls out BlackRock's hypocrisy as one of eight key topics they believe will be "On the Table for 2018" in the introduction to their First Quarter issue

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-throw-stones-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 their organizations can influence a host of societal issues, partly because a growing number of shareholders want them to and partly because it's the right thing to do.

In this issue we pulled together eight key topics we believe are going to be "On the Table for 2018", and not surprisingly many of them fall into the ESG realm, including climate change and gender diversity.

Another topic we tackle is the hype surrounding blockchain, the shared online ledger being hailed as the ultimate secure technology. Experts we talked to provide a reality check. We also offer the metaphor of a carbon copy, for those of us who remember those, as a good way to think about how blockchain works.

We also take on truth in financial reporting and a movement to use technology, and other methods, to figure out if CEOs are lying. And we delve into director liability, board size and sexual harassment.

Our senior editor April Hall's conclusion after all her research is that directors can't stay silent on the thorny issue of sexual harassment in the workplace any more.

Share & Comment

Related Multimedia


Yes, I will donate to protect the Amazon!

"The work you do is vital, and I am happy to support it."
– Charlotte R. A.