GUBERNA's Centre Listed is delighted to present its latest study on the Sustainable Value Creation in Belgian listed companies.
According to the 2020 Belgian Code on Corporate Governance, sustainable value creation involves an explicit focus on the long term, on responsible behaviour at all levels of the company and on the permanent consideration of the legitimate interests of stakeholders.
Commissioned by the Belgian Corporate Governance Committee, the purpose of this study is to evaluate how and to which extent Belgian listed companies understand and implement sustainable value creation (or more shortly, ‘sustainability’). It is based on a mixed-methods research design combining a literature review, qualitative interviews, and a survey sent to representatives of listed companies.
In a nutshell, here are a few key points that can be highlighted from the results of our study:
- Sustainable value creation means a focus on the long term, and consideration for the expectations of your stakeholders. However, for a number of listed companies, economic value remains the primary goal. Awareness is present that the corporate purpose should be reviewed but non-profit goals are considered as an ‘add-on’ to shareholder profit, not as a replacement
- Long-term thinking is embedded, but contradictory demands make it difficult to achieve. However, prioritising the long-term requires trade-offs and is a delicate balancing act.
- Most companies have reviewed their corporate purpose but see it foremost as a communication tool. “Formalisation” in the by-laws is not seen as a priority.
- Companies evolve from sustainability as a distinct pillar to placing sustainability at the core of their business strategy but this process takes time and may lead to substantial changes.
- Sustainability is progressively being formalised in company operations... But to fully embed it at all levels of the company, culture is key.
- Almost everyone reports on sustainability but not without criticism. Beyond the legal requirements, sustainability reporting is perceived as necessary to answer to the expectations of the company’s shareholders and stakeholders.
- The involvement of the board towards sustainabiblity is increasing, but improvements still need to be made.
- The largest obstacle experienced by companies is the lack of resources (such as data, human and financial).
- More coherent regulations & education raising are amongst the top suggestions of the respondents. There is a strong call for sustainability public policies that provide incentives rather than obligations, that promote a stronger harmonisation and standardisation, and that take into account the specific realities of the listed companies in different sectors.
We invite you to delve deeper into the subject by reading our full report. It is available via the link below.