Michael Lerner will present the paper Greens in the American Boardroom: Linking Director Attitudes to Corporate Climate Policy’.


How green are the leaders of U.S. corporations, and to what extent are their attitudes reflected in corporate climate policy? Using data on individual contributions to pro-environment political campaigns, we measure the personal environmental commitments of 79,000 individuals serving on the boards of directors of 8,500 public firms between 1993 and 2022. Corporate America has become greener over time, although progress slowed markedly after 2005 and there remains significant variation across and within industries. Accounting for economic interests and outside pressures, firms run by green directors are more likely to make decisions that promote climate action, both internally, by hiring sustainability officers, publicly reporting emissions, and announcing ambitious net-zero commitments, and externally, by joining pro-climate coalitions and avoiding anti-climate groups. The environmental beliefs of board members drive firms toward climate action, suggesting the path to sustainability may run through the boardroom.

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