White paper with pen in the meeting room.

A4S essential guide to engaging the board and executive management

Find guidance and practical examples for CFOs and finance teams to engage their board and executive management team on sustainability as a driver of value.

The traditional skills of accountants are more relevant than ever in meeting market expectations and business needs arising from environmental and social issues and the need to integrate sustainability into an organization’s strategy, risk management, operations and reporting. The A4S Essential Guide to Engaging the Board and Executive Management (EM) aims to help CFOs and finance teams provide guidance and practical examples to engage their board and executive management team in these areas.

An informed and engaged board and executive management team will support the broader aim of making sustainable business, business as usual. The guide includes six case studies.


The guide sets out a typical process for engaging the board and EM using three key steps:

  • prepare
  • engage
  • embed and improve

The second part of the guide describes how the steps can be applied in regular board activities and how finance can engage the board and EM on sustainability under each activity:

  • business strategy and planning
  • governance and risk management
  • corporate development and investment
  • corporate reporting and internal controls
A4S Essential Guide to Engaging the Board and Executive Management


Board engagement tool
A question-based tool to help the finance team identify ways to engage the board outside of the regular board meetings that will help board members make informed decisions and establish accountability.
Board characteristics tool
A tool for the CFO and finance team to understand the board characteristics: governance, competencies, composition, and behaviours.
Board engagement survey
Finance can run this survey with the CFO, executive team members, and company secretary to obtain wider perspectives.

Case studies

Complementing the guide are case studies from members of the project team and other organizations from across the globe.

British Land

British Land is a UK property company that manages £12.7 billion of assets. This case study details how British Land developed a net zero carbon strategy for their portfolio.

Brookfield Asset Management / Brookfield Renewable Partners

Brookfield Renewable Partners, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, owns and operates one of the world’s largest publicly traded renewable power platforms. This case study details the engagement process for issuing a green bond.

Manulife Financial Corporation

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider that helps people make their decisions easier and their lives better. This case study details how Manulife’s CFO challenged the company to think big about sustainability.


TELUS is a dynamic, world-leading Canadian communications and information technology company with over 16 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security. This case study details how TELUS integrated sustainability into strategic planning and decision-making processes.


Watercare Services Limited provides water and wastewater services to 1.7 million Aucklanders and the many visitors to the region from around New Zealand and overseas. This case study details how Watercare developed a new template for board papers to engage the board on an integrated approach to decision making using the six capitals.

Yorkshire Water

Yorkshire Water provides water and sewerage services in the north of England. This case study details how Yorkshire Water adopted a capitals approach – the “six capitals” – and integrated this into our strategy, business model, and decision making at all levels.