31 Jan 2022

Leading search firms sign joint declaration on climate capabilities in the boardroom

Chapter Zero has joined forces with a group of leading board search and advisory firms to help ensure that companies recruit climate competent non-executive directors.

The firms, which collectively account for a majority of non-executive director placements on the boards of major UK companies, have signed a joint declaration in recognition of the urgency of the need to transition to a net-zero economy.

The declaration states that the firms will “raise the issues of sustainability and specifically the board’s climate change capabilities with every board client and candidate, and that they will assess every chair and non-executive director candidate for their competence on climate change issues.”

Urgent need

It’s clear that business must lead the way in tackling the climate crisis. There is an urgent need for companies to recruit directors who understand what is involved. This isn’t about putting a climate specialist on the board. All non-executive directors need to know what questions to ask their executive teams, both about their carbon reduction strategies and how to adapt to increasingly extreme climate impacts; and to be able to challenge the answers. The commitment of these search firms will make a real difference by helping ensure that boards are fully equipped to take on the climate challenge.


Julie Baddeley, Chair of the Board, Chapter Zero

The search firms signing up to the joint declaration are:

Speaking on behalf of the group, Tessa Bamford, who leads the UK Board Practice and Katy Jarratt, leader of the UK Sustainability Practice at Spencer Stuart, the firm that convened the group said:

"This joint declaration reflects a shared conviction among the board search and advisory community in the UK that addressing climate change is one of the most critical tasks for any board, and it builds on the work these firms are already doing to help shape boards that are diverse and fit for purpose."

The Search Firms Joint Declaration

This group of search firms:

  1. Undertakes to continue to raise the issues of sustainability and specifically the board’s climate change capabilities with every board client and candidate. This includes the wider environmental and social issues or implications.
  2. Will assess every chair and non-executive director candidate for their competence on climate change issues, applying the following criteria:
    • A general understanding of the science around global warming, the current international and national debate and evolving stakeholder expectations;
    • An understanding of and literacy around the climate-related risks facing the businesses with which they are currently involved and what those businesses are doing in concrete terms to mitigate those risks and make progress towards net zero; and
    • A clear willingness to engage actively.
  3. Will participate in a regular/annual feedback and review process to assess how the commitment is being acted upon and the impact it is having in the market.
  4. Will ensure that our consultants and teams who are involved in board appointments understand the role and obligations of company directors in tackling climate change and the capabilities required.

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