Business Accountability

Workforce Accountability

Appropriately resource, train and incentivize the workforce to embed sustainability across specific job functions.


Direct and franchised employees are appropriately resourced and trained to make material and salient sustainability considerations part of their specific job functions. To do so, senior management adequately allocates resources and invests in programs that strengthen accountability for sustainability. Direct employees at all levels of the business are incentivized via function-specific sustainability goals that are clearly and transparently tied to compensation packages. 

Getting Started

Unlike the Critical Impact Actions, the actions within Business Accountability do not have milestones leading to 2030. Each company already has the ability to begin taking or continue integrating these actions today.  Rather than taking iterative steps over the next 10 years, companies should prioritize strengthening their corporate systems and equipping themselves with the tools to address risk and capitalize on opportunity as soon as possible.

This section of the Ceres Roadmap 2030 identifies a list of resources to help companies further integrate sustainability into business accountability.

Ceres: Running the Risk - This report provides guidance to corporate boards on how they can effectively oversee risks posed by ESG issues, including questions for directors to ask management throughout the risk identification, prioritization and mitigation processes.

Ceres: Lead From the Top - This report identifies the skills and experience needed for board members to provide thoughtful oversight of sustainability risks and opportunities, as well as the tools and processes that can help foster deeper engagement at the board level on these issues.

Ceres: View From the Top - This report leverages interviews conducted with dozens of corporate directors, senior corporate leaders and governance experts to explore how effective board engagement can produce tangible, positive environmental and social impacts.

Ceres: Getting Climate Smart - This report is designed to help corporate directors understand why climate change is a board-relevant issue, when climate change should fall within their mandate and how they can oversee climate-related risks and opportunities.

Business and Human Rights: A Five-Step Guide for Company Boards -  This short guidance provides “need to know” information for company leaders about how to meet the UN Guiding Principles’ expectations of doing business with respect for human rights. 

National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) - A nonprofit membership organization for corporate board members, the NACD elevates board performance by providing board members with practical insights through world-class education, leading-edge research and an ever-growing network of directors.

5 Steps to Tying Executive Compensation to Sustainability -  Five steps on how companies can link sustainability incentives to executive compensation. The steps allow boards and management teams to create incentives that signal their commitment to sustainability.

Principles For Responsible Investing: Integrating ESG Issues into Executive Pay - These principles provide a tangible tool for guiding dialogue between shareholders and investee companies about how to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into executive pay.

Companies in Action

Molson Coors Brewing ties compensation to sustainability metrics from the CEO down to unit managers. In a quest to scale impact and drive performance improvements, leading companies are tying executive and employee compensation to sustainability metrics and targets. At Molson Coors, incentive compensation for C-suite members, including the Chief Procurement Officer and Chief Operating Officer, is based on achievements linked to the company’s latest sustainability strategy: Our Beer Print 2025. Key metrics also extend to other members of the management team, including the business unit managers, environmental health & safety manager, risk manager and public affairs manager, among others. Specific performance metrics cover energy used, carbon emissions, sustainable sourcing of key commodities, water consumption and efficiency and performance against external sustainability evaluators, including CDP and Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Recognizing that the entire staff of a company plays a role in achieving sustainability goals, Kingfisher announced in 2019 that employee bonuses will reflect performance against responsible business targets. While more companies are linking executive pay or bonus pay to performance on ESG goals, few companies have integrated this incentive structure throughout their entire staff. Kingfisher says the new incentive structure will help it achieve the following ESG goals: reflecting the communities in which it serves, protecting forests and tackling climate change and helping customers afford greener homes.

Barclays links both executive and employee pay to sustainable business performance. The company defines sustainable business performance as “making a positive contribution to stakeholders, in both the short and longer term, playing a valuable role in society.” The degree to which employee pay is linked to sustainable business performance correlates with seniority. More heavily linking pay at the executive level presses those with the most power in the company to achieve sustainability goals and ensures that junior employees are not significantly impacted by fluctuations in business performance. In 2018, 20% of CEO and CFO bonus pay was linked to strategic measures, which includes the company's performance against environmental and social goals. Barclays set an additional example of leadership when it comes to executive pay in the spring of 2020, announcing that CEO and CFO incentive payments would be delayed for a year due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus.

Bank of America integrates sustainability training across the company. To effectively engage employees and change their behaviors, companies should use a multitude of training methods and customize them to specific job functions. Bank of America’s “My Environment” program, which reaches 25,000 active employees across more than 30 countries, includes expert-led webinars and courses, as well as competitions on issues such as waste reduction and increasing recycling. In addition, the company provides ESG training for employees across the enterprise and it uses its Environmental and Social Risk Policy (ESRP) framework to help employees identify, measure, monitor and control environmental and social risks across the business. The company reported that 250,000 employees in control functions and front line units across the company had enterprise risk framework training in 2018.