Summary of Webcast on Corporate Governance & Materiality

Key elements for effective strategy and execution
Summary of Webcast on Corporate Governance & Materiality
Publ. date 10 Nov 2017
On November 9th, the fourth out of 5 webinars on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) 2017 results was broadcasted by RobecoSAM. The webcast covered the criterion of Materiality and the updated Corporate Governance chapter. Both criteria are key in determining whether companies have the right focus and effective structures for long-term shareholder value creation. In the download section of this article, you can find our summary of the webcast.

Corporate Governance & Materiality

In the Corporate Governance chapter, RobecoSAM has updated a number of questions in order to ensure that companies’ boards show the right characteristics in terms of experience, diversity, and level of independence. More stringent criteria are in place for board size, composition and level of independence. Diversity is expected in terms of gender, but preferably also for nationality and/or ethnicity. An average board membership tenure of 7-12 years is seen as an ideal balance between fresh perspective and experience, and this experience should mostly be gathered within the company's own industry.

The content of the Materiality critierion was unchanged in 2017. RobecoSAM continues to look for evidence of a thorough materiality assessment, resulting in the identification of material issues, which should be non-financial and non-operational. The business case, long-term management of the issue and link to executive compensation needs to be described for the three most material issues. Finally, RobecoSAM expects companies to be transparent about the topic by publicly disclosing the materiality analysis and outcomes, as well as associated targets and progress towards achieving them.

Leveraging the outcomes of benchmarking efforts

With the publication of Dow Jones Sustainability Index data in the Bloomberg terminal, companies are now better capable of combining their perceived and actual sustainability performance, and compare it with their peers’ position. The outcome drives more efficient communication and helps sharpen the sustainability program; whether it is to accelerate actual performance on specific issues or to better to leverage sustainability leadership through alignment of communication.

The increasing hunger for ESG information from investors and institutions is more and more burdening companies. Reporting activities take up a lot of time, at the cost of generating real impact. Meanwhile, research continues to show that it is not the overall sustainability profile that is driving long-term company value, but a focused approach on the organization’s most material topics.

Benchmarks as drivers to accelerate your sustainability program

Finch & Beak helps companies to avoid the reporting trap by focusing on issues that are key for your company and society, by choosing the right benchmarks, and through efficient ways of reporting. With over 12 years of experience in Dow Jones Sustainability Index support and a long-term collaboration with RobecoSAM, Finch & Beak is one of Europe’s leading experts in assisting companies with their submission to ESG benchmarks.

Our work for (ex-) industry group leaders is characterized by a pragmatic, 12 month-approach that leverages existing assets in the short term, while identifying opportunities for strategic development in the future. If your organization is looking to improve its sustainability performance, please download our service description or contact us at for more information.

About Nikkie Vinke

Seasoned advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. |

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