SWIPRA Corporate Governance Survey 2023

11. SWIPRA Corporate Governance Survey: From ambitions to implementation – Where do Swiss companies stand in terms of sustainability?

Zurich, November 23, 2023 - The majority of Swiss companies have anchored sustainability in their strategy, and institutional shareholders now have a better understanding of what this implies for the composition of board of directors or capital allocations. Nevertheless, the implementation of the sustainability transformation has only just started: According to SWIPRA's 11th Corporate Governance Survey, almost two thirds of companies see themselves in the process of making their products more sustainable, but only a quarter has recognized notable changes in their corporate culture yet. Shareholders, on the other hand, are critical of whether the current boards are properly positioned for the envisioned change. Investors also see current geopolitical uncertainties as less of an obstacle to sustainability than companies.

Looking ahead, the focus is shifting to data and its quality: most companies and shareholders recognize that improvements in terms of sustainability data are needed, but collecting these data is considered to be up to twice as costly as collecting financial data. When it comes to interpreting this data, NGOs are taking an increasingly prominent role, but seem to be relying more on indirect influence on companies via their shareholders. To not be left out of the opinion-forming process, companies are well advised to maintain an active dialogue with their shareholders. Data is also becoming a factor in the topic of remuneration: only 10% of shareholders consider sustainability data to be reliable enough yet to be considered in remuneration systems.

In the upcoming 2024 AGM season, non-financial reports (NFRs) will be presented on a broad basis to shareholders for the first time. 77% of companies expect approval rates of over 90%, while 33% of shareholders expect approval rates below 90%, 19% even below 80%.