The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and Global Law Firm DLA Piper Announce The Launch of a Two-Year, Global Research Collaboration to Study the Future of Boards

The Future of Boards study aims to understand the shifts in governance and leadership which enable organisations to align business success with sustainability. This will combine existing academic and practitioner research with insights from board directors and key stakeholders across a range of jurisdictions. The aim is to produce practical, evidence-based, internationally relevant recommendations to prepare businesses and their leadership for the future.

Boards across the world are facing growing pressure and scrutiny by investors as the businesses they lead face new disclosure requirements and performance expectations about how they serve society and manage climate and nature-related risks and opportunities. These changes, alongside evolving debates about the purpose of business and stakeholder capitalism, appear to create an opportunity for a reappraisal of the role, structure, composition and behaviour of boards. However, the speed and nature of these changes, and how they might unfold is little understood. This leaves boards in a difficult position regarding how to prepare for the emerging future. This study aims to address this challenge.

Gillian Secrett, Director of Leadership Programmes at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership comments:

“The Future of Boards will take a systemic approach to research effective leadership of social and environmental risks, opportunities and impacts. In addition, it will explore how businesses can create long term value for society and the environment as well as for investors. This study will seek to bridge the gap between current board practice and future demands to identifying the most promising solutions and enablers of progress.”

Jean Pierre Douglas-Henry, Managing Director, Sustainability and Resilience at DLA Piper comments:

“The growing need to align purpose and profit has brought about a seismic shift in how we think about organisations and the role of boards.  Although corporate governance codes and interpretations of fiduciary responsibility are evolving, there is a need for informed discourse around the individual, organisational and systemic barriers to progress and a set of practical recommendations to address them.”