More and more Nordic listed company boards swear by responsibility: “This must become visible in recruitment”
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August 29, 2021
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Executive Summary
Chairmen of Nordic listed companies consider responsibility their top strategic priority for the next 18 months. 

Excerpt from the article originally published in Talouselämä

The Talouselämä article, “More and more Nordic company boards swear by responsibility: 'This must become visible in recruitment'," quotes Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Juha-Pekka Ahtikari​ and features findings from our Nordic Board Study 2021​. The article is excerpted below.

In 2021-2022, the boards of listed companies in the Nordic countries will especially focus on responsibility, digitalisation and dealing with the coronavirus crisis. This is according to the Nordic Board Study 2021 conducted by Russell Reynolds Associates, a global advisor to governments and business leaders on the strategic priorities, composition and working practices of boards. 

Chairmen of boards of Nordic listed companies, regardless of industry, rank responsibility (15% of respondents) and digitalisation (13%) as the most important strategic objectives for boards over the next 18 months. The post-pandemic handling of the coronavirus crisis is currently seen as one of the greatest risks for boards at present. In addition to coronavirus, responsibility, cybersecurity and geopolitics are seen as risks for 2021-2022. 

“Responsibility is the main focus area across Nordic companies, and there are no significant differences between industries," says Tommi Lankila of Russell Reynolds, who conducted the study. 

A large proportion of Nordic companies are industrial companies with a long-standing focus on carbon reduction and environmental issues.


ESG as part of management recruitment

ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) is a difficult topic because it changes corporate culture. However, Finland has a good opportunity to become a pioneer in responsibility. Finnish enterprises are not huge on a global scale, and the will for it already exists extensively. 

“Finns are also quick to make decisions. For example, Finnish boards were amongst the world's best in internationalisation already 10 years ago. ESG is in its early stages, and now it could be taken up by Finnish companies," says Russell Reynolds Finnish Country Manager, Juha-Pekka Ahtikari. 

In practice, the situation in listed companies is largely that ESG is being discussed and is on the agenda of boards. According to Ahtikari, the next step, both in Finland and in other Nordic countries, is to move to a sustainable leadership model, i.e. sustainable management-based business and corporate culture. 

“This means that responsibility matters and skills must also be considered in recruitments and the daily agenda. It's not there yet," says Ahtikari. 

Access the full article here.​