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New CSR Governance Guidelines Released

Posted: Friday 2 July 10, 1.25pm GMT

CSR Takes a Seat at the Board Table: New CSR Governance Guidelines

Boards of directors are increasingly recognizing that effective management of social and environmental risks can improve business performance. Recent environmental and financial crises illustrate the importance of increased CSR oversight by boards as part of their fiduciary responsibility to protect long-term shareholder and stakeholder interests.

In response, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility’s Andrea Baldwin and Coro Strandberg of Strandberg Consulting worked with leading Canadian companies to produce CSR Governance Guidelines. The Guidelines are informed by CBSR’s experience with member companies, Ms. Strandberg’s previous CSR governance research, consultations with board directors, and international research into global trends and best practices. Industry Canada and Environment Canada provided funding for the development of the Guidelines.

The Guidelines address five areas that require board of director attention and focus. Specifically, boards need to ensure that:

  • CSR is embedded in the company’s vision and strategy. Make an explicit commitment to CSR in corporate vision and ensure that key social and environmental risks and opportunities are addressed in the company’s business strategy.
  • There is board-level accountability for CSR. Ensure the board regularly reviews the company’s CSR performance to goals and targets, mandating a committee with explicit responsibility for CSR matters. Ensure compliance with CSR policy across the firm and tie CSR to CEO recruiting and executive compensation.
  • Material CSR risks are understood and managed. Ensure that CSR issues are included in the company’s enterprise risk management framework and considered when approving major decisions like capital projects, new business lines and merger and acquisitions.
  • CSR influences board composition and expertise. Equip boards to make good decisions by ensuring director diversity and embedding relevant CSR knowledge and expertise.
  • The company regularly discloses its CSR performance. Boards should review and approve disclosure of the company’s CSR performance in mandatory and voluntary reporting.

Corporate boards, senior management, and CSR professionals are encouraged to use the Assessment Tool to obtain a fuller picture of their current CSR governance performance and the Roadmap Towards Good CSR Governance to get started or continue advancing. Canadian examples of leading practice in CSR Governance from Cameco Corporation, Gildan, Loblaw Companies Limited and PotashCorp are also included.

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