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Executive Compensation, Human Capital Governance, and ESG

WTW’s research related to Board of Directors perspectives on ESG around the world.

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Environmental, social and governance (ESG) and human capital governance (HCG) issues are emerging as top priorities in the boardroom. How should companies navigate in the evolving corporate governance landscape? What are the implications to executive pay design? What roles do the board and management play in driving a company’s ESG agenda and maximizing human capital potential? What does the future hold for compensation committees?

Our ground-breaking research provides a holistic perspective on how global ESG and HCG issues are addressed in the boardroom, shedding light on the evolving future of the compensation committee.

Findings of our ESG research

Shai Ganu, Managing Director, Global Leader — Executive Compensation provide highlights.

In the search for answers, our executive compensation leaders found that ESG and HCG discussions are largely focused on major economies in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. They are also dominated by perspectives from activists, institutional investors and professional services firms. To bring deeper insights into these important topics, we decided to launch a campaign to hear from board members directly. We are doing this in two ways:

  • A survey targeted at board directors globally, which explores questions in relation to aligning executive compensation with ESG and HCG. This survey will allow us to extract quantitative insights into the main issues facing directors.
  • A research project to be carried out through a series of interviews with compensation committee chairs and non-executive directors around the world. In these interviews, directors are given the opportunity to share with our executive compensation leaders their perspectives on the hot topics relating to stakeholder capitalism, ESG and HCG. This project will provide us with important insights into the content and direction of boardroom discussions globally.

We are excited to be adding to the catalogue of research on this subject, and to be leading our clients toward long-term, sustainable-value creation for all of their stakeholders.

4 in 5 companies are planning to change ESG measures in executive pay plans over the next 3 years.”

Shai Ganu | Managing Director, Global Leader — Executive Compensation

To download a combined research report, highlighting the key findings from our ESG survey and non-executive director interviews, please complete the form opposite, or below on a mobile device. We hope you find the report informative and should you have any questions, please contact Shai Ganu or Kenneth Kuk.

  1. What are directors saying about ESG and human capital governance?

    Kenneth Kuk and Shai Ganu | September 24, 2020

    We spoke with 170 board directors around the world to hear their perspectives on company purpose, shareholder primacy, ESG, and human capital governance.

  2. Perspectives on purpose, profits and shareholder primacy

    Ewan Taylor, Jamie Teo, Manuel Montecelos and Trey Davis | October 13, 2020

    A well-defined purpose and balance among all stakeholders can generate sustainable long-term shareholder value; most want “and” not “or.”

  3. Perspectives and boardroom discussions on ESG

    Christine Rupp, Kenneth Kuk, Jessica Norton and Michael Siu | October 27, 2020

    ESG is not just about “doing good”; it’s a top business imperative. The board sees their critical role in driving ESG priorities and agenda.

  4. Directors’ views on human capital governance and culture

    Alex Lawrie, Daisy Jin, John M. Bremen and Don Delves | November 12, 2020

    Board directors around the world share their expectations on how boards influence their organizations’ culture and approach to human capital.

  1. 2020 ESG survey of board members and senior executives

    December 16, 2020

    Companies with strong ESG practices deliver sustainable returns. Learn how boards factor ESG into executive incentives and human capital strategies.

  1. Executive Compensation Guidebook for Climate Transition

    November 11, 2021

    WTW, partnering with the Climate Governance Initiative, has developed a guidebook to explore how to drive the climate strategy by meaningfully embedding it within executive compensation frameworks.

  2. Executive Compensation Guidebook for Climate Transition – 2023 Addendum

    May 24, 2023

    Throughout the 18 months since the Guidebook’s publication, broader regulatory and investor context and market practice on the inclusion of climate-related performance metrics in executive incentive plans have evolved.

  1. Global study on ESG incentives in executive compensation

    May 17, 2023

    WTW’s research found that 77% of major companies across North America and Europe include ESG metrics in their executive incentive plans, an increase from 68% last year.

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