Boards are our business

News and Views

Focusing on the ‘G’ of ESG

February 23, 2023

Posted in: WATSON Views

Last year, WATSON brought together board directors in Vancouver and Toronto for a coast-to-coast conversation. In multiple sessions, our governance experts and other thought leaders discussed many aspects of ESG, including the challenges for boards in starting, championing, embedding, and measuring ESG initiatives across sectors. And if we walked away with one thing from these conversations, it’s this: just start.

In both Toronto and Vancouver, we heard that integrating and embedding E, S and G in the company’s purpose, strategy and risk management is the most optimal means of governing E, S and G. To embed ESG effectively, a board must first discuss and align on the particular relevance and meaning of E and S to the company: Where are the organization’s greatest opportunities to decrease its climate footprint or elevate its impact to the community it serves? Does the business or delivery model need to shift to serve new markets or better respond to emerging issues? What is our current impact? Context is everything and tees up integration effectively.

But sometimes boards need to walk before they can run. If integrating and embedding ESG looks to be too daunting for any reason, take a step back and look around. Taking stock with management of what an organization is already doing is a great place to start.

It is important to avoid overburdening the organization with separate structures and processes but if starting with a committee dedicated to E and S helps to get the ESG board discussion started, then do it. It is also important to avoid the temptation of trying to do everything at once. Instead, focus on a manageable set of issues and goals and build up from there over time.


As always, WATSON is here to help. Reach us at to talk about how we can help your board in the ‘G’ of ESG.