The expert: The new EU requirements can cause shock – Swedish companies risk falling behind

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The expert: Swedish boards must strengthen climate competence

Both private and state-owned companies should strengthen climate competence in their boards, the government’s investigators recently suggested. Nomination committee veteran Suzanne Sandler thinks there should be some kind of climate certification for board members. “The board needs to have this kind of insight in order for management to be supported in making more difficult decisions.”Published: August 19, 2022, 2:34 p.mBoard members for state-owned companies must have relevant training in climate change, and also private companies should increase the competence in sustainability in their boards. That proposal was recently presented in the government’s investigation into financing the green transformation of business. Suzanne Sandler, former CEO of the Styrelseakademien, who now works in ten election committees, has long been critical of the generally low level of sustainability and climate competence in Swedish boards. Today she thinks that the situation is better than just a few years ago – no company would admit anymore that they don’t have a handle on the climate issue – but despite that, she thinks that too few really do the job that can be expected of them. “Often the CEO or chairman thinks that the competence is found in the company, including the board. But when we election planners interviewed the entire board, we realized that it is not always true. It is not enough to refer to previous experiences and knowledge, says Suzanne Sandler. “The board members don’t have to have all the knowledge themselves, but they have to be able to ask the right questions so that the discussions are at the right level,” she says. Read more: Hacking session about Swedish sustainability experts A thought Suzanne Sandler has is that it would be reasonable to have some kind of climate certification for board members. “As an advisor at a bank, you must have passed a knowledge test to be able to talk to and inform customers about financial instruments. They can also take a digital certification course in sustainability. Why not one about the climate, which some or all board members of a board must have?”Do you think a compulsory increase in knowledge is required?
“I don’t know, it would probably go faster then, but how do you get there? The chairman of the board and CEO should at least have the skills to understand and properly manage the company’s climate challenges”What would it mean if the companies had the right skills?
“Very. I believe that the board needs to have this kind of insight in order for management to be supported in making more difficult decisions. Today there is a great focus on profit, but in the future one must look to more values ​​and be able to make tough but long-term sustainable decisions. There, the shareholders also have an important role to interpret it as positive.”When the climate competence is lacking, the right conditions do not exist for the board to be the control body it should be, according to Suzanne Sandler. “But the more people who dare to sit down at school and contribute to climate change now, the faster it will go. Ultimately, it will be the new normal.”

The government’s investigation

Recently, the report was presented with the title Financing the green transition of business. This is how to write government investigator about how board members’ competence in climate change can be strengthened:“The green transition will require extensive measures and action from most companies. The investigation suggests that the government investigates how boards’ competence in the climate area can be strengthened. This is to meet the need for competence in general around climate change and specifically to understand development paths and investment projects that will be important parts in green technology shifts, circular business models and the business of the future.”The investigation also wants to ensure that board members of state-owned companies have training in climate change:“The state is a significant company owner in Sweden and thus has the responsibility for these companies driving the climate transition. To ensure that competence exists to make the necessary decisions, the government should ensure that board members for these companies have relevant training in climate change.”

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