Building ESG Competences in Boards​

What were the projects about? ​

Copenhagen Fintech has supported two projects led by Professor Kristjan Jespersen on building ESG Competences in boards.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) indicators are widely recognized as having significant financial implications, leading to market downturns for companies that are unable to effectively address them. Asset owners, asset managers, commercial banks, and insurance companies have all embraced ESG metrics, yet corporate boards remain inconsistently educated about these important risks. Recent research conducted by NYU Stern School of Business and the Copenhagen Business School has shown that many boards lack the expertise necessary to address critical ESG issues.​

Project 1 - Building Sustainability Competences in Boards - ESG Board Methodology

Given the growing importance of sustainability challenges and their impact on regulatory and stakeholder expectations, investors and stakeholders are seeking ways to measure and understand boards' sustainability competence. To address this need, the Copenhagen Business School, Matter, and the Copenhagen Board Education (CEF) collaborated to develop a cutting-edge ESG Board alignment methodology and tool to assess Danish company boards. ​

The purposes and goals behind building an ESG Board Readiness tool was to collect new forms of Big Data that can evaluate sustainability competencies at the Executive Governance level. With increased demands placed on companies to both meet their sustainability challenges and work to contribute to a more sustainable planet, the role of the Executive committee to ensure such commitments is critical. Company boards who are unable to both manage, let-alone, comprehend the scope and scale of their sustainability commitments will risk reputational and financial risk.​

The purpose of the work was not to challenge whether a board should be diverse. Instead, the project consortium wanted to study and develop tools that could assess which degree of diversity contributes to more performative boards.

In addition, the project data challenged the Danish norm of assessing board diversity as just gender. Instead, it showed that diversity is far more nuanced and must explore education, past experience, service to community, political power, life-long Learning and internationalisation.

Project 2 - ESG Board Readiness - A New ESG Governance Tool

In a follow-up project Professor Kristjan Jespersen together with the compainies Sheconomy and Competent Boards tested the methodology developed in project 1 with the aim of developing a board training program. This part of the project also aimed at scaling the successful Beta version to include a temporal data - collecting data three-five years back. In addition, we ambition to complete the data sets for Europe and North America.

Host Institution(s):

Copenhagen Business School​

Principal Investigator:

Kristjan Jespersen, Associate Professor, Department of Management, Society and Communication​





Competent Boards


200.000 DKK​ (Project 1) and 200.000 (Project 2)

Project period:


Project outcomes

The Boards are now willing. But are they ready? Building Sustainability Competence in Boards - LINK

How competent is your board? A ground-breaking tool to measure sustainability credentials- Download report HERE