24 Apr 2023

A series of personal reflections from Mary Ethna Black on being a climate-active non-executive director

Chapter Zero Fellow Dr Mary Ethna Black kicks off her seven-part series of ‘two-minute reads’ on being a climate-active non-executive director.

Mary Ethna Black

Chapter Zero Fellow

How best to be a climate-active non-executive director (NED)? I ask this question daily, aware that I am in the foothills of a leadership journey that is very much a work in progress. This is not easy. We must act with imperfect information, and we must act quickly.

This is the first in a series of two-minute reads. They will signpost the net-zero NED leadership landscape with insights into how to map the emerging topography. They will offer practical pointers on how to take effective action and highlight resources you can tap into.

Reaching net zero is not a luxury; it is essential. The world is burning up, and business is determined to play a part in solving this impending catastrophe. We won’t have much to leave the next generations if we do not act. There is little available to NEDs about the nuts and bolts of taking effective action at board level. We seek answers to real life questions. How can I succeed, and how might I fail? Do I know what I am talking about and where can I find out more? Am I certain of what will work in my sector? Will I be a lone voice, or can I be one of a team?

You and I both want to go on this journey, because it is important, uncertain and imperative. Also, we are not single-issue NEDS; we go on this journey because we want to be relevant, useful and excellent all-rounders.

The series will cover:

  1. Introduction and overview
  2. Imposter syndrome, and what to do about it
  3. Inspiration—the power of positive stories
  4. Know your stuff—science and the facts
  5. Network and the power of collective action
  6. Dealing with the naysayers
  7. Now what? Next steps on your leadership journey

I will offer key pointers, guide you to useful resources, invite discussion, and help us all to accelerate our learning. I will be frank about the opportunities AND the pitfalls along the way.

What do I do right now?

  1. Have a quick look at the Chapter Zero Board Toolkit to get you started
  2. Check out this guide to net zero terminology and keep it handy
  3. If you are a NED, join the 2,500 members of Chapter Zero (its free).

My next two-minute read will address Imposter Syndrome – why you may feel different and how to take action anyway. It will launch in May.

Mary Ethna Black

Chapter Zero Fellow

Mary Ethna Black is a medical doctor, tech entrepreneur and experienced NED. She is a Fellow of Chapter Zero.


Our “Fellow’s perspective” series

Our Fellow’s Perspective series shares the views and expertise of the climate and business leaders who are the Chapter Zero Fellows.

Read more about our Fellows

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