Ingvild Sørensen - “Global Businesses Can Be a Force for Good”

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Dec 12, 2015
by Heather Jaber
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Ingvild Sørensen - “Global Businesses Can Be a Force for Good”

Ingvild Sørensen, a manager at Global Compact LEAD within the UN Global Compact, discussed applying sustainability goals and the impact of cultural nuances on best practices

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals are some of the more difficult ones for businesses to adopt, yet some of the most significant. Ingvild Sørensen, participant of the Corporate Governance in the Global Economy: The Changing Role of Directors, talked about her work applying strategic sustainability goals in global organizations.

Sørensen is a manager at Global Compact LEAD within the UN Global Compact, a leadership platform launched by the UN Secretary General in 2011. She supports leading global companies across various sectors to achieve higher levels of corporate sustainability performance.

Her work with the UN involves convening with governments, NGOS, and companies and having a conversation about the sustainability issues that matter to them. The question, she said, is, “how we can all collaborate for a better future, but that still has financial value and value creation for the companies in place?”

Sørensen also discussed the tensions involved between profit maximization and ESG goals, especially in terms of fighting for ESG issues when businesses don’t see the immediate impact. But still, she said, returns are not necessarily material in nature — it is suggested that 80% of a business’ value actually lies in intangibles. 

“But you don't see that on the spreadsheets and you don't see that in the financial decision-making,” she said. “I think that's where there’s still a long way to go in quantifying and finding ways to really better understand and communicate about the financial values for sustainability investments.”

What can help here, said Sørensen, is the unique role of the board. As the highest level of governance, they have a large role in determining the direction of strategy. “[They] could have symbolic value by making it clear that sustainability matters to them,” she said.

Working with global businesses also gives the Fellow a nuanced perspective on best practices, helping to raise benchmarks.

“Global business can be a force for good and help stabilize areas where you maybe lack governance or government actions by introducing standards that are recognized as good standards in other places.”

Diversity was also reflected in the session, said Sørensen, allowing for frank discussions with board members and experts in various sectors. “It makes for an audience that I don't usually have that much access to.”


Ingvild Sørensen was a participant at the Salzburg Global Program Corporate Governance in the Global Economy: The Changing Role of Directors, which is part of the multi-year series Salzburg Forum on Global Developments in Corporate Governance. The session was hosted in partnership with BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, and Shearman & Sterling LLP and was sponsored by Barclays, LIXIL, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Mars, Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, the state of Delaware, and Warburg Pincus. More information on the session can be found here: http://www.salzburgglobal.org/go/550