Corporate Boards as Architects of Sustainable Impact — Umran Beba

3 min readSep 21, 2023
Photo by Nik on Unsplash

The role of corporate boards has taken on a new dimension, one that goes beyond traditional governance and extends into the realm of creating substantive impact. This transformation is driven by the changing expectations of stakeholders, the need to address global challenges ranging from cultural and market differences to geopolitical risks, and the recognition that businesses can play a pivotal role in shaping a more viable future. In response to this shift, corporate boards are redefining their responsibilities and recalibrating their strategies.

A recent August Leadership report delves into the changes occurring within corporate boards, based on insights gathered from interviews with global CEOs and board members. Notably, 79% of these leaders are convinced that the new ways of working, born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, are here to stay. The report’s findings provide guidance in shaping corporate governance parameters that have a positive, sustainable impact.

Communicating with Purpose

During the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders were actively seeking reassurance and a deeper understanding of the situation, a crucial element in managing any disruption to “business as usual.” This highlights that authentic and honest communication is not just a momentary need but an enduring foundation for corporate leadership.

Diversity and the Quest for Innovation

While progress has been made in diversifying board compositions, a staggering 90% of the August Leadership report participants felt that more needs to be done, and quickly. This push is not just about numbers; it is about embracing different perspectives and unlocking innovation. Diverse voices around the board table serve as catalysts for fresh thinking and creative solutions.

Sustainability as a Strategic Imperative

Sustainability has moved beyond being a buzzword; it’s now integral to strategy, and boards are recognizing their role in embedding it within their organizations. A striking 72% of the leaders interviewed felt that it is essential for boards to effectively challenge and drive the achievement of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) targets.

Adaptation and Resilience

Of those interviewed for the report, 88% felt that technology, sustainability, and talent are the biggest challenges ahead. In order to be properly prepared to face these issues, boards need to be agile, embrace change, and foster a culture of innovation.

Convergence of CEO and Board Attributes

Interestingly, the report highlights the convergence of attributes required for successful CEOs and corporate boards. Both entities need a strong sense of purpose; resilience in the face of ambiguity; a growth mindset; authenticity and empathy; and have wide networks. This alignment is not coincidental but signifies a united vision for sustainable progress.

Corporate boards are entrusted with a distinct mandate: to spearhead the drive for meaningful and lasting impact. The statistics from the August Leadership report act as a compelling call to action, underscoring the urgency for boards to guide their organizations toward a future characterized by resilience and positive influence. In this role, corporate boards are positioned to be the architects of enduring change, shaping a more equitable and sustainable world.

To read the full August Leadership report, please click here

With nearly 35 years in the Consumer Goods Industry, Umran Beba is a seasoned professional specializing in general management, talent, and diversity. Having resided in Turkey, Hong Kong, UAE, and the USA, her cross-cultural insights enable her to transcend borders and create strategic alignment between various facets of business. Her distinct blend of financial prowess and deep appreciation for the power of human potential allows her to create enduring value for people and organizations.

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