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Sustainability and ESG committees

2023 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index

2023 Snapshot

 37 %

of boards have a committee to oversee sustainability issues


boards have an ESG committee, five more than last year

 64 %

of sustainability committee chairs are women

There has been a steady increase in the number of boards that have established a committee to address issues that fall under the sustainability banner — 55 in total, nine more than 2022. Newly constituted committees appeared at seven companies: Airtel Africa, Aviva, Bridgepoint, Bunzl, Shaftesbury Capital, Smiths Group, and Softcat. (Five companies joined this year’s sample with a committee in place; three companies removed from our sample also had one.)

The exact names of these committees vary, as do their remits, which cover a wide range of topics, including climate change, decarbonisation, biodiversity, human rights, labour standards, good citizenship, workforce engagement, and diversity, equity and inclusion. For the purposes of this survey, we have taken note of the different names used by boards and subdivided these 55 committees into three categories: corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and ESG.

Breakdown of sustainability-related committees (top 150 FTSE companies)
Committee name # Committees Female chairs Ethnic Minority chairs All members Female members Ethnic Minority members
Corporate social responsibility 14 6 (43%) 2 (14%) 52 23 (44%) 9 (17%)
Sustainability 25 16 (64%) 3 (12%) 99 41 (41%) 15 (15%)
ESG 16 13 (81%) 2 (13%) 51 27 (53%) 11 (22%)
Total 55 35 (64%) 7 (13%) 202 91 (45%) 35 (17%)

There are five more ESG committees than last year. Four are new constituents (Bridgepoint, Energean, Grainger, and Haleon) and United Utilities renamed its corporate social responsibility committee to ESG.

Chairs of sustainability committees receive, on average, a higher fee (£27,016) than corporate social responsibility committee chairs (£21,482) and ESG committee chairs (£19,228).

The full list of committees, the number of meetings, and fees for each FTSE 150 company can be viewed in our searchable committees table.