The impact of corporate governance on sustainability performance

Paul Shrivastava, Amr Addas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


We examine the relationship between corporate governance and sustainability, using the extensive Bloomberg Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data universe. Eccles, Ioannou, and Serafeim [2012. The Impact of a Corporate Culture of Sustainability on Corporate Behavior and Performance. National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., NBER Working Papers: 17950] argued that a corporate culture of sustainability plays an important role in various facets of a firm's corporate behaviour and performance. We argue that quality corporate governance itself can engender high sustainability performance. We also build on the work of Aras and Crowther [2008. “Governance and Sustainability: An Investigation into the Relationship Between Corporate Governance and Corporate Sustainability.” Management Decision 46 (3): 433–448] by investigating the relationship between specific corporate governance and sustainability characteristics of S&P 100 companies in the USA. Our initial exploratory findings suggest that environmental disclosure scores and ESG disclosure scores are strongly influenced by governance disclosure scores. Board meeting attendance is an important predictor of both scores, suggesting that more disciplined boards result in better sustainability performance. Boards with a higher percentage of independent directors also have higher disclosure scores and are more likely to have climate change and an environmental supply chain management policy in place. They are also more likely to be Global Reporting Initiative compliant, to have a green building policy and social supply chain management. A disturbing pattern emerges, however, when assessing firms' follow-through on declared commitments. It turns out that few firms that purport to have climate change policies in place have actually discussed climate change risks or opportunities. We discuss some implications of these preliminary findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sustainable Finance and Investment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Finance
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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