How a business school helps companies build their management strategy

Investors and consumers are increasingly considering an organization’s environmental, social and governance, or ESG, strategies when choosing where to invest, where to work, or where to buy goods and services. But companies sometimes need additional support in the form of research and training to meet these expectations.

INSEAD’s Center for Corporate Governance, or ICGC, provides this support. INSEAD is a premier not-for-profit business school whose original campus is outside Paris, with additional locations in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and San Francisco.

ICGC works with companies, nonprofits, and government and educational organizations around the world—and their leaders and boards of directors—to offer research and expertise from faculty members who have board or advisory board experience, webinars and other corporate governance training materials and certifications.

Sonya Tatar headshot

Sonia Tatar.

Courtesy of Sonia Tatar


“We receive various requests from organizations and individual board members for specific training solutions,” Sonia Tatar, ICGC’s executive director, told Insider. “For example, organizations often turn to us for support, guidance and partnerships around board-level individual or group learning solutions, while individual board members may contact us to inquire about the director certification pathway. “

About 70% of board directors say they are moderately or not at all effective at integrating ESG into company strategy or management, according to a study by ICGC and Boston Consulting Group. Fewer than half believe their boards are competent and experienced enough to challenge the company’s ESG strategies, and many lack the knowledge, data and ability to provide ESG oversight. ICGC’s goal is to help companies develop highly effective management strategies and drive impact in meeting investor demands and increasing profits, Tatar said.

“We deal with the latest trends, topics and challenges in corporate governance not only from an academic perspective but also from a practical, practice-based perspective from real-life experience,” she added.

Here’s an overview of how an effective corporate governance strategy benefits companies, the challenges organizations face in building a strategy on their own, and how ICGC is stepping in to help.

Helping companies overcome management challenges to meet investor demand

Boards are the most important decision-makers in organizations, representing the backbone of a company’s management system, Tatar said. It is critical for companies to have a solid governance framework so that their boards are highly effective, accountable, resilient and create value for investors and stakeholders.

There is increasing pressure and scrutiny on companies’ boards and corporate governance strategies from internal and external stakeholders, Tatar added. In 2019, 70% of investor demands for companies revolved around governance, including board composition, compensation, accountability, voting rights and management changes, according to a report by McKinsey & Co.

Governance is tied to a company’s success or failure because accountability and responsibility often lie with the board running the organization, she explained.

She said ICGC helps companies with challenges such as upskilling to expand board knowledge on new topics such as ESG and digitalisation and preparing and onboarding the next generation of board directors. Family businesses often need help creating more professional longevity advice.

Continuously revising management strategies helps organizations meet these demands and can improve operations, motivate employees, drive innovation and make shareholder relations stronger, according to the McKinsey report.

Providing management and education resources that drive value

ICGC works with companies through two models: corporate governance training and certification programs for aspiring and experienced directors and board chairs. ICGC has a portfolio of training materials, but also builds customized programs tailored to the needs and goals of the organization.

ICGC partners with the European Confederation of Directors’ Associations, the Ukrainian Academy of Corporate Governance, the Hellenic Corporate Governance Council and the Center for Corporate Governance.

To help companies, ICGC first learns about an organization’s unique needs and determines which program or certification is the best fit. Developing a customized program involves identifying the challenges facing the organization, bringing in experts and faculty from INSEAD, and conducting analysis with board members and company leaders to uncover what the best outcomes for the company should be.

ICGC provides access to experts, research, reports, educational content and case studies, as well as board simulations, feedback on leadership styles, executive coaching and global board peer exchange programs.

ICGC’s certifications include the INSEAD Certificate in Corporate Governance for board members who work internationally. Participants participate in training on strategic management practices and financial value creation and write a report showing how they put what they have learned into practice. An Advanced Certificate is available for those looking to expand their knowledge.

Focusing on governance builds trust and drives growth

A strong management strategy creates value for companies. It builds strong community-government ties, prepares organizations for regulatory and government requirements, motivates employees, increases investor confidence and inspires consumer confidence, according to a report by McKinsey & Co. from 2019

Tatar said it also makes companies better prepared and resilient for the future, so that organizations and boards are “powerful forces for improvement” within the economic markets and ESG landscape.

ICGC helps companies ensure that boards are comprised of the best talent who can contribute diverse perspectives, drive innovation, understand stakeholder expectations, and embrace new trends or regulations that affect them—both short-term and , as well as long-term, she said. Companies simply need to take action by assessing board composition, strengths and weaknesses and identifying gaps where training, upskilling or changes are needed.

“We help directors stay ahead of the curve, which is a catalyst for good governance to inspire and push organizations to make a positive impact,” Tatar said.

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