Background and History

“I consider your work the leading pragmatic, industry-focused tool for (sustainability/ESG) assessment and improvement. Every global corporation needs that.”

Mark Weick, Dow Chemical Company (retired)

Launched and Shaped in Corporate Boardrooms

I have had the privilege over many years of participating in over 60 board of directors meetings of major (mostly Fortune 500) corporations. I was there as an independent advisor, providing guidance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities.

During the late 1990’s, corporate boards in the U.S. began discussing how some leading companies – particularly those based in Europe – were beginning to address sustainability in a comprehensive way.

In 1997, I participated in two Fortune 500 Board of Directors meetings that sowed the seeds for ESG Navigator.

  • Ashland:  During the 1990s, I participated in many of Ashland’s Board Public Policy – Environment Committee meetings. In one meeting, Committee Chair Patrick Noonan asked me if we could develop a scorecard that would help board members navigate the turbulent waters of sustainability.
  • Honeywell (then AlliedSignal): In over a dozen Board Corporate Responsibility Committee meetings, I watched CEO Larry Bossidy in action. I learned how he thought and how he operated. I also met in “executive session” with only the outside directors at the end of every one of these dozen meetings.

During those 1997 Board meetings, I decided to craft The Sustainability Scorecard – later renamed ESG Navigator.

  • Pat Noonan planted the seed and said to keep corporate governance and leadership at the core.
  • Larry Bossidy taught me to focus on strategy and execution.

Since 1997, ESG Navigator has evolved as follows:

  • 1998: First major client assignment (Anheuser Busch) using the Scorecard over a three-month assignment.
  • 1999-2014: Used ESG Navigator with over 30 companies in the U.S. and another 20 in Europe (via my Arthur D. Little colleagues).
  • 2015: Pilot Program involving 25 major companies. All completed the benchmark data and engaged in webinars to provide improvement suggestions.
  • 2016-2017: Major overhaul based on 2015 Pilot.
  • 2018: Official Launch – with 60 “founding members” – many of whom were members of various Conference Board Councils I ran at the time. Launched major website upgrade to build out the analytics. Conducted major review of the rating criteria (Key Sustainability Indicators) – resulting in a reduction in number of KSIs from ~160 to 147. Invited founding members to officially join during Q4-2018.
  • 2019: Launched monthly webinars; continued major website upgrades; launched new “Advanced” Join Option; conducted another major review of the KSI rating criteria – resulting in a reduction in the number of KSIs from 147 to 129.
  • 2020: Began to gradually expand outreach to engage more companies.

Gib Hedstrom

April, 2020