The Curious Capitalist – Helle Bank Jørgensen (Competent Boards)

Join us for another episode of The Curious Capitalist where Conscious Collaborative Board Member, Soledad Matteozzi speaks with Founder and CEO, Helle Bank Jørgensen from Competent Boards.

We explore Helle’s incredible, pioneering career to date, focusing on her involvement with ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance). Competent Boards is a local operation providing education, certification, and strategic advisory services for board members and business leaders. To find out more you can read Helle’s book: ‘Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards’ which is available on Amazon and through her website.

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[00:00:00] Welcome to the latest installment of the Curious Capitalist brought to you by the Conscious Business Collaborative Board in Connecticut. The Curious Capitalist is a series of podcasts where we take the opportunity to speak with a wide range of guests, including board members, business owners, and startups.

Our purpose is to engage, educate, and inspire business leaders at all stages in their careers Think and work more collaboratively and sustainably. Please subscribe to this podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from. Welcome along to the latest episode of the curious capitalist brought to you by the conscious business collaborative.

We have a very special episode in store for you today as the CBC board member and co founder of thinking beyond business solid out. Mattiossi speaks with our very special guests today. Hella Bank [00:01:00] Jorgensen. Now Hella is the CEO and founder of Competent Boards, providing education, certification, and strategic advisory services for board members and business leaders in the broad field of ESG, which in case you didn't know, is environment, social, and governance.

And a bit of sustainability as well. Now, since 2018, competent boards have upscaled more than 1, 000 board members from over 55 countries worldwide, including a huge number of global fortune 500 brands, take a bow, Hella. I am super excited to find out more about your super impactful work and your career today.

So without further ado, I'm going to hand over to Soledad to fire the questions. Thank you so much, Claire, and welcome, Hele. Thank you. I, I must express how much I admire Hele. I'm a fan of her work and I deeply [00:02:00] respect and admire your work, Hele, that you're doing in training executives and training board members on these issues.

There are so crucial today for any business leader. I myself, I'm a certified ESD professional through Competent Board, this online amazing training program that Hele leads. For me, participating in this training brought invaluable insights. I not only learned from ESD. Issues from the best of the best in this space, but I also was able to interact with peers around the world on these issues.

Our cohort have people from China, from India, from Latin America, from the US, Europe, and we shared. What are we doing in terms of these issues? How does we really integrate it within our, our organizations? And [00:03:00] this was invaluable to me. I, I started, I started the program, I think at the end of 2019. So just before lockdown.

And, and I think at that time, the program was kind of a baby two, three years old, if I'm not mistaken. And I'm so glad to see that he has grown so much. And that you continue to train board members, executives, business leaders around the world on these topics. So thank you so much for your work. For our audience here at Conscious Business Collaborative, I would love to start by them getting to know you a little bit better.

You are kind of a pioneer on ESD. You have more than 30 years of experience. You started with this one, people. We're barely talking about it, so I would love for you to, to tell us a little bit more about your career journey. What got you to where you are today? [00:04:00] When did this passion for sustainability started and if there are any high water moments that you can identify or stand out that brought you to where you are currently today?

First of all, thank you so much for having me. And, and if anyone could see me, they will see my, my cheeks are getting red of all of those fantastic words. Thank you very much. And it's, it's, it is quite amazing to see the impact and, and yes, Comforts and Boards was born in 2018, but it's probably been something that I've been thinking about for the past, as you say, 30 years or almost.

And just recently we did an impact survey. So we asked you and asked a lot of other of those that have gone through the program, you know, what's not only the impact when you just finished the program, but what's that [00:05:00] longer term impact and the feedback we are getting. Like you were just hearing is totally amazing.

It's that thing that this, this brought me a board position, but also it gave me the confidence. It gave me that insight, that foresight to see around corners, et cetera. So first of all, thank you for having me here and for all those nice words. In terms of my career, yes, you dated me over 30 years ago that I started.

That is correct. I was a business lawyer and so starting to become an accountant. When I saw this article from a professor at the technical university, so totally different, but writing about life cycle analysis. And how we should look at that in order to have our products designed. So think about the, the phase where we have the [00:06:00] research and development and it's very much that that is what we need to look at the whole life cycle and life cycle analysis.

Nowadays we know about these things back then if this was actually the first in the world that was starting to talk about it. I got very fascinated. I picked up the phone and again, dating myself, you know, the newspaper was a real newspaper where you were sitting and, and the phone was, yes, one of those big phones where you picked it up and you probably even dialed in, in, in circles to, to have the, the, the number.

And I talked to this professor and say, I'm going to do my master's thesis. I'd really like to see, could we put a cost to those value chain analysis? Could we look at the externalities and therefore starting to also have a business case for research and development in a different ways [00:07:00] on products? He basically said, come to this technical university, the Danish Technical University, I literally took the train from where I lived in Odense in Denmark to Copenhagen and tried to find this technical university, walked in and got to work with a lot of very smart people with a totally different background than me.

And this fantastic professor, Leo Alsing, he's then sent me to Danish steel work. That was the first deal worked on recycling steel and wanted to report to the world about their impact. So together with them, I got to put together their world's first green account. And that's what my master phase is actually got to be about.

So, so yes, that's, that's how it. I guess it all got started and [00:08:00] then I joined Pricewaterhouse. The professor actually wanted me to do a PhD and I was like, I have not even finished my master's thesis at that point. So no, no, thank you. But I joined Pricewaterhouse as it was called at that point. And I guess after three months walked into a partner's office and said, we should start a practice on probably, I think it was environment because I'm not really sure we would talk sustainability at that point.

And for some reason, this young person walking in, I was allowed to use half of my time to what later became the sustainability and climate change practice. So totally from, from, from scratch. And from there on, I was asked, you know, had the chance of work on the world first integrated report with Nova signs.

I started what we call the network for good business [00:09:00] ethics and non financial reporting. Picked up the phone, call some of these high level CEOs and said, you want to join in talking about how we can do this fantastic opportunity to, to start. The thinking in terms of like, how do we, how do we have business ethics?

How do we have non financial as we called it at that point reporting? And how do we embed that into, to the business? What else got, got to became a partner, got to work with our global CEO and chair, Sam Piazza, Who, who asked me to move to, to the U S to New York and, and I, to lead and, and, and build the sustainability and climate change practice for America.

And, and yeah, so a lot of the main thing, competent boards that, that's, that's, that's I think been my baby for a long, long, long, long time, but it's, it's now [00:10:00] starting to be much more than a baby. It's, it's really grown up and we are in nearly 60 countries now with over a thousand fantastic leaders that, that are what I guess I call stewards of the future and, and really impact in, in the boardroom, but also impacted the businesses to, to be successful.

It's incredible. Do you, do you? Do you think of yourself as ahead of your time, or did you think of yourself as ahead of your time? Because it sounds incredible from little acorns and all that. I, you know, there was no doubt that everyone else, I, I did not, but others were saying, I know you're doing it, it's crazy.

Uh, I, I, I guess. My, my master's thesis was about how companies should report about sustainability matters. And, and at that point it was like, well, the [00:11:00] feedback was great. Master's thesis, this will never happen in reality. Um, and here we are 30 years after, and now we have to. Can have a, can have a rice smile for that now.

Yeah. You did it. You did it. You shaped it. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, this, I, I oftentimes say this, but, uh, I, I love to see the connections in everyone's journey, and I think through these experiences, opportunities that we have in life, like in my, my case was competent board talking about impact shift. I, my, my background is in, in law.

I work as a corporate lawyers. I was a lawyer for many years and then I, I participated in this training and now I'm doing ESD. I have my own company training, training companies in how to incorporate it. These, these experiences like enlightenment moments that we have through our, our lives. We [00:12:00] see something that is not working.

We want to fix it. We know that we can bring value and that is where our purpose comes from. Right? This is our role. That we have to play in this life to really make a change. And I think with you, Hele, you had this a long time ago. You're a pioneer on this area and you have been impacting business, the business world, and you continue to impact the business world.

And you have created this amazing network of decision makers. There are the one who are going to move the needle, hopefully in the right direction. So thank you so much for sharing that. Well, thank you. And what you were just saying is like, you know, I say we need to have exponential impact and that is where.

Yes, you're, you're going through the program and now you're, you're taking it out to even more, more people, right? So it's, it's like that little stone that you throw into the lake and then you see, you see [00:13:00] the impact. So it's, it's heartwarming to, to, to see people like you. And I know there's so many around the world now and more and more are joining Compass and Board.

So. Thank you. No, it's now we, it's, it's, it's such an honor to, to be interviewing you and, and I admire so work so much. And what is very interesting about you and that I, I relate with you also is that your background you study as a, you started as a corporate lawyer and you also are an accountant and I think you have an MBA.

So you really have coming from the corporate traditional corporate world. And, you know, my business, I'm a, I'm a lawyer, my business partner, she's an accountant between both of us. We are a little bit of you, but with less years of experience, but I'm curious to know how these informs the work that you currently do with CEOs and, and, and board members, your background [00:14:00] on, you know, traditional corporate law, how does it inform the work that you do?

Because it does for us, but I'm curious to learn from you, your point of view on this. I've said, and then I have a lot of fantastic younger me, people coming to me and say, where should I start my career? And I want to be in sustainability. And I often say, well, why not be in a different function and bring that your passion to that function?

I think for me, both having the business law and the accounting makes it able, you know, You see the consequences of different initiatives. You can ask the question, what was it? You know, what would the CFO say? So the chief financial officer say to this, what would sales [00:15:00] departments say, what will procurement say?

What will other parts of the business, what would be the reaction? So you actually understand the context and therefore can bring it to not only being a fantastic idea, what you get people to say, yeah, we should do that. But also really practical. How do we do it? How do we ensure that this is not just a project, but a process?

How do we ensure? That this is part of the culture. How do we really embed it into all business functions and everything starts with people, but if it also ends with that person no longer be there is really not a sustainable process. Right. So, so for me, having that law. Accounting. They're from the technical university.

I think I'm a little bit on the standup of that. Don't ask me about [00:16:00] my, my grades in, in chemistry and stuff like that. Were not good. I'm sure they were good , they were not bad. But I think that that's the, that's really the beauty here. We are not talking about, uh, a special, oh, this is, this is the, the little box for this.

We are actually talking about sustainability is part of all of those different aspects in the business, in the value chain, think about it from not only in the supply chain, but also to, to the customers from a business point of view. And if I put my accountant hat on, well, I can have the world's best product, but if I'm not able to get the supply for that product, because of climate change issues, biodiversity issues.

Social issues, whatever, or my, my goods are stuck in [00:17:00] Panama because there's not enough water. That's a business risk and I need to understand that. So, so I, yes, it's, it's kind of like, I think really having the background in other disciplines. And be able to communicate with familiar terms and their own language, as you said.

And, and I think what you just said is so crucial and I see it a lot in the work that we do. Seeing sustainability or ESG kind of a sideshow that is not integrated within the business strategy or the organization. And as you mentioned, it's a challenge. It is business, it's just business sense. It's just understanding the evolving risk that our business is subject to according to this new ecological boundary, geopolitical issues that we're facing.

[00:18:00] So, and the opportunities, not only the risks, but the opportunities, because there are many opportunities out there and how this is going to be connected to all of our organization. From communications, from marketing, finance, accounting, auditing, how are we going to integrate these long term and not think about it only on the, on the short term.

So, you know, when, when we did the cohort, uh, Claire with, with Helen, you know, when I started getting involved with sustainability and ESG, I thought on the environmental part and corporate governance. But when I looked at the whole syllabus, everything that we went through, we, we discussed tax and incentives, diversity and inclusion.

There was anti corruption and bribery, cyber security, stakeholder communication and engagement. How can we reach out to our partners? And everything was interconnected. This is one of the, uh, I think the [00:19:00] misconceptions that people identify, maybe you see a sustainability as only like a sideshow that is more like it's narrower.

And one of the things that connects with Conscious Business Collaborative is that Hele and her program started the whole program. With one model that was organizational purpose and it kind of build the foundation through which all the program then developed. So I would love for you to tell us a little bit more about that.

It's something that we discuss a lot with our, our group and how it relates to ESD. Love to, and I can just keep listening to you talking about all of the things that you got out of the program. And I think you, you, you said a few things where, you know, that not putting things in silo. But also the language.

And what I hear a lot is that we, board of directors going [00:20:00] through the program, learn to speak sustainability language, if you can put it like that. People that are not board members, they learn to speak board language too. And that having the same language is so important. I do have a few years of Spanish, so you can test me, but, but if I started speaking, that's good.

Right. You, you would probably not understand. And even if I started shouting, you'll still not understand, but that is what we, from time to time do. We do not put ourself in the shoes of the receiver and try to understand what is the language that is, that is important there. So, so I think very, very important parts that this is not a silo.

This is a cross, but also it's not that. It should be the sustainability language that is, is to do language. This [00:21:00] is business language. This is human language, right? It's just being human beings and understand all of the risks, all of the opportunities, the ethics. And how do we really embed that in a way where it's both give values in the short, but also the long term.

And now I totally forgot your question. Sorry. No, it was, it was about purpose because I think it's kind of foundational. We discussed this with, with our members a lot. What is, why are you doing this? Why? Why are you starting with sustainability or ESG and why does your business exist and how, what value is going to bring to your stakeholders?

So I was curious to see how you connected with ESG and the work that you do. Well, at the, at the start, yes. The purpose we, we all kind of like [00:22:00] start there. What is the true purpose of the organization? And, and that can be a lot of things people can say, well, true purpose here is make a lot of money. What a true purpose here is to give access to something or to provide a need that no one else is doing or to do it in a better way.

So, so you need to understand the business and that true purpose of, of, of the business. Why are we here? What will happen if we're not here? Someone else take over. Would they do it better? And so, so I think that understanding is important. It's also important that it's not just something we do once in a lifetime or once a year, but also check in and see, are we actually following that purpose?

I agree. Where, where do our investments go? Do our investments go to the purpose? [00:23:00] Or do they go to something else? Um, so are we, are we true to that purpose? And, and I think that's where we all get to say, okay, look up at the wall there. You have a purpose, you have a values, you have all of those things, but how are they embedded in.

To what we do every day are embedded into the culture, how embedded into the marketing, how embedding into the sales process, how it embedded into how we procure our goods and services. So, so it is an integrated part of it. And it's not easy nowadays because there's so many things that coming at us as you were mentioning.

Well, one thing is anti corruption, AI, cybersecurity, geopolitical issues, political issues. Yes. And that gets to where I'm, I'm saying we don't, one thing is to talk about what's the purpose of the business, but we also [00:24:00] need to talk about what's the purpose of the corporate, the board, the board of directors, what is the, what is the individual's purpose in this as well?

Because. That's going to be important to really ensure that we have an, a fit and alignment and can bring the, the, the company forward. So I think there's much more to, to unpack in that. And I'm writing this new book about the future boardroom. And so I'm looking forward to writing that book. We need a sneak preview, sneak preview.

It's so important. I think you mentioned many times in order to make informed decisions, you need to be informed. And that is why your work is so relevant. The board of directors who are deciding about the long term strategy of the company and are [00:25:00] the ones who are pushing the CEOs to go in one direction or another, they need to know about these issues, about how all of these issues are affecting the company and their stakeholders.

And so it's, it's, it's very relevant for board members and I'm so glad that you continue doing this work and I'm looking forward to, to reading this book. One of the things that you make me think about is, you know, yesterday, no, the day before yesterday, we were with my, with my partner in a round table with 12 CEOs talking about ESG and sustainability, these are middle market companies and how it's important to know, be informed about this.

And most of the questions that we received from this group of companies, different industries were related to profitability and specifically how the situation that the U. S. currently is facing. And they were saying, look, we are going through a [00:26:00] recession. We have high inflation. I'm just trying to survive and focusing on the next quarter.

So this is not a priority for me right now because the reality is that I don't see the My customer is really demanding this right now. One was in construction, the other one in construction, while the other one is in packaging industries that work. But I, I hear this a lot and I'm curious to know how do you tackle the thinking?

And when you talked with, I'm sure you get very similar questions from some executives around the world when they talk about this, maybe short term making it to the next quarter and how to, why is this a priority right now? It's so true. And I think it goes back to what I said before in terms of, of how do we speak?

What, what is the language we are using? And there's no lack of uncertainties. And there's no [00:27:00] lack of expectations to CEOs and board members and everyone at the moment. So where do you, where do you focus, what's your priorities? And it goes back to what we just talked about, what was the, also the purpose.

In, in that respect, what's the goals and how do we align that? And that's where we're go back. And of course, from, from the law and, and from the accounting side, that might be the first thing that pop up to mind. What, what are, what are the issues we have at hand here? Because we are also in, in a world that is more and more regulated and it might be that the smaller companies are not part of the.

Have to report and all of the, the, the regulations that we have and standards that we have, but they are larger, you know, there's companies or their, their customers are, are [00:28:00] asking. So it's, it's this thing about when, how do I start to get, get prepared for that, but then there is the innovation side and there's the opportunity side.

And, and what I'm really excited about is that when I have those kind of, you know, talk to people about the things that, that you were saying now, and you start turning it a little bit around, some are already doing a lot, they might not call it the same as what you're called. Yep. I agree. Yes, definitely.

And that's where, again, we need to understand what are these. Demands, but also what's already happening and how can, how can this be aligned? I don't think that, that any CEO want to say, yeah, we're going to cut something. So, so we're not going to have an income next year. I mean, when you're in a financial situation, yeah, you need to cut or [00:29:00] you to ensure that you actually are there next year, but are you going to cut so much so that you don't have any customers next year?

Might be a bad idea, right? And I think, yeah, please go ahead. No, no, go. Sorry. I, I can go on. No, please. I feel it's so related to one of the things that we discussed for like I think two weeks during the, the, the program that was this stakeholder communication and stakeholder engagement, how important it is to connect, be in tune, listen to your stakeholders, your investors, your customers, employees.

Yes. Where regulation is going and your community in order to inform what are your priorities and so. And you dedicated a whole, a whole, yeah, two weeks, I think, or more about discussing this, this stakeholder communication and engagement. Do you have any tips [00:30:00] for organizations here or recommendations or how can we engage our stakeholders, uh, to, to make them part of this process?

I think many companies actually already doing it. We might, again, just call it something else. But clearly when you start looking at it, what we can call materiality assessment in our world, but that is, others just would say, okay, what are our customers to our customers like our products, what kind of feedback are we getting, what are we hearing, what are the pain points of our suppliers, can we actually get the supply we want in the future, what's in our insurance company saying.

Do they keep being happy in putting an insurance on us or a premium going off? What did, what are our financial providers, the banks, what are they asking us about? So one thing is to, to listen [00:31:00] and we have all of that feedback. Another thing is to ask the question. Yeah. And, and in, in my book, stewards of the future, I think I have these, these questions all over the book, but they're kind of like.

Look, three, five, 10, 15 years from now, who will be your customers? Will they care more and less about sustainability matters? If you look at the younger generation, I think you'll see they will care more. So, um, you know, if you look at finance institutions and they're starting to stress test, they have to report, will they be asking you more or less questions about what are you doing in terms of transition?

What are you doing to secure this company for the future? So you can actually pay back the money. The same goes for all the other finance providers. If you go to your employees and think your employees and three, four, five, 10 years from now, [00:32:00] how are you going to attract them? The best in class. The purpose of the Conscious Business Collaborative is to engage, educate, and inspire business leaders to work more collaboratively and sustainably.

To find out more, visit the website conscious Business It's not rock or, yeah, it's just look forward more long term. Yeah. It's shortsighted, isn't it? It's a shortsighted approach to a dollar bill today. Maybe a 10 bill tomorrow, but actually if you're looking years ahead, if your customers are making educated decisions, which all the data is telling us they are, that they are going to make decisions based on how you choose to do business.

You're out of business, essentially, you know, that's, that's ultimately it's like get on the train or get off. It's, it's kind of happening. It's there's no holding this one back. I hope. Well, I don't even think it's, it's, you know, you can see it and, and [00:33:00] it's damn hard for a lot. I mean, I'm, I'm very pragmatic.

So, okay, let's, let's look at this and what are, what are the short term and long term impacts off it? And, and as you're saying, fill it out. I keep saying, you can't make informed decisions if you're not informed. And I'm not going to tell people what kind of decisions they do to make. I can tell you when they're informed they are making better decisions for themselves.

Their own career, the business, and by that also those stakeholders that are otherwise impacting the business in a negative way is again, there's no, there's no kind of like magic to this. It's simply being a good business leader and understanding what kind of environment are you, are you operating in today and tomorrow and asking the right questions.

Asking the right questions. I love that. Asking questions, not [00:34:00] only listening. And if you think about it, it happened many times in history, you know, like it's listening, paying attention, answering the right questions, you know, like, The cassette after, you know, if you were not thinking that you, the CD will come and you were just like not listening to your customer behavior, the trans regulations that was going in.

It was before then it was vinyl. We're never going to not have vinyl. And then wallop came the cassette and now how many mini discs, zip drives, all of the old technology and. We look back now and we laugh about a rotary dial telephone and look at where we are now. You have to be forward, forward thinking if you're in business today, massively.

And I think it, go ahead, Helen, please. But it is that, that forward thinking, right? And understanding. Again, what business environment, what [00:35:00] world environment are you living in? And that's, that's where, you know, when we look to say the world economic forum risk report, but you don't even need to look, look that far.

So what are those changes that we are going to see? And what impact will that have on, on the business where we operate is going to be so warm that you don't have any employees that in that area is a good, you know, it's not so it's just looking a little bit ahead and, and yeah, asking, asking those questions.

And we're feeling it now. We feel the pressure of the planet. We see climate change, how, as you mentioned, how it's disrupting the supply chain. And we see pressure from regulations too. You know, the U. S. we're a little bit behind, but we recently had the securities and exchange formation regulation that is not as broader as we thought, but it's still a big, [00:36:00] a lot of progress, I feel.

And, and this is coming and it's. And it's coming in these different industries, as you mentioned, we need to be looking at all these pressure points that are happening now. With regards to this, I, I've seen, you know, when I started. With ESG, nobody in my circle was really talking about it. I mean, lawyers, private equities, hedge funds after covid here in the US it seemed like everybody was talking about it.

It was in the media, in the news. All the business leaders thought it was a priority and, and everybody was. It was kind of a, I don't know, like a trend it seemed here in the US and then here. We had with the new administration and the new federal regulation, kind of a backlash on ESG and a whole anti ESG movement.

It was a term that was very politicized and continues to be politicized, but now I feel [00:37:00] companies are realizing this makes business sense and they thinking about these issues more strategically. And maybe they don't mention the term ESG, some of them, because it could be controversial, but they continue doing the work and moving from kind of these commitments, big commitments to actions.

I'm curious to see, how do you see this evolution and where we are today with regards to, to, to these issues? Thanks. It's, it's, it's funny because if I look back over 30 years and saw the issues at that point, you know, health and safety issues, reputational issues, we were aware in terms of, of, of climate issues, but there was, you know, it was very much what are the issues at that point?

And, and, and yes, I've seen the backlash on different terms. But we [00:38:00] keep talking about it as the rhetoric, you know, what are we calling different things? But in reality, if we just break this ESG down, environment, social, it's governance, it's risks, it's opportunities. It's simply a framework above around that you can put even more terms of, of, uh, aspects in there.

As such, it was from an investor point of view saying, okay, we'll need to break this down. We can see there are risks out here. They can cost us money. We need to make sure that we understand those risks and we, we can either mitigate or, or adapt to those risks. So yes, there's, I don't think there are many companies that, that will say it's not important to know.

If I can get my supply to do my products [00:39:00] in the future, I don't think there's a lot of companies that will say it's not important if they're not water enough in, in rivers or, or Panama or now or whatever. To get my, my goods to, to me as it is now, I don't think there's many that says it's not important if my employees, you want to keep working here.

There's not many that says it's not important if our customers will keep buying our products. It's, it's again, so many, so many drivers. Yeah, I might not be going out with the same big statements. That I did a few years ago also, because we're starting to see greenwashing actually into litigation, you know, you know, that, right.

And maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it's a good thing to start looking. [00:40:00] Can we really back up all of whatever it is we're saying? Is that really aligned across the organization? Do we have the data, do we have the right data? Can we trust the data? So, so it's, it's a little bit going into, let's get, let's get the rigor in place.

Let's get the process in place clearly on the backside of what is also called green hushing is that we also now have artificial intelligence. We have fake where I put an article out on. No, you can have this company deciding, okay, I'm not going to go out and, and take a stand or, or, or talk about these different matters, but the voice, the, the image of the CEO or board member out there, so someone can go in and then do the fake version.

[00:41:00] And then forced the company to actually take a stand and that's, you know, again, a discussion that needs to be within the company, the boardroom, not say, what are we doing in a situation like that? What do we really believe? How will, will we. React. How can we be proactive? And all of this again is, it's, it's simply, there's nothing strange about all of this.

It's, it's back from all of the companies I've, I ever worked with, right? You talk about reputation, you talk about the resilience, you talk about the critical business aspects, you talk about the critical supply. You talk about how you're going to, to capture the best brains is nothing strange. It's just, we're getting all of these so many more risks at us now that [00:42:00] we were not fully aware of.

And I think we are starting to realize that when you can't get your house insured and in California or, or other places. Well, that not only a consequence of that individual that might have a couple of whatever that might have tied their retirement to that because they can't sell it in a later stage for whatever they had hoped for.

If you can't get insurance on a house, what are the wider consequences of that? What's that? Moving away. Yes. Moving away from semantic. I like that. It's not, call it whatever you want to call it. But these are risks and opportunities that are out there within our current business environment. And we are so interconnected.

We have these evolving, ever evolving technology that is affecting us all. And this is what we need to focus on and call it EST as [00:43:00] a framework, but it's call it whatever you want to call it. I love that idea of, okay, moving away from this, maybe what we call it a semantic and moving away from greenwashing.

Really understand going back to purpose and to your values, where your company stand in terms of these issues to make and have the processes in place already prepared. When this situation, if there's a situation like the one that you mentioned happens that we know how are we going to deal with this.

according to our values, according to what we stand for, right? Gives you the opportunity to respond and not react to her current trend. I've got a question for you, if I may. When you look back over your career, and I guess you have experienced more than most when you've been so acutely focused in this area.

When you were first knocking on the door and saying, I'd like to do this, When you looked at the world and the environment [00:44:00] and the, the way things were back then now, fast forward to 2024, are you, is the world, are we as humans, are we where you hoped you'd be by this time? That is very good question. And, and I guess the answer is no, on some fronts, we are so far kind of like we're moving so fast and then on other areas where we are moving so slowly.

And, and. When I look at actually did that recently, looked at my master's thesis from over, over 30, I think actually it's 30 years ago that I actually finally put it in the things in there, it go like, Oh, I'm still running around and saying exactly the same. Uh, and that's a bit. Okay. But then, then you have an on other fronts where it's, it's fantastic to see how companies in terms of innovation.

Yeah. How a lot of [00:45:00] new companies are starting, what are actually happening out there around the world in terms of innovative business models, circularity, thinking in new ways. Where again, more established companies, when they start looking at, at all of this new innovation, go like, whoa, okay, well, maybe, maybe we, we do need to, to have a good look into what are we doing?

Can we do things in a smarter way? So, I would say we're far from where we, we ought to be, and, but we also, we also closer because you have leaders around the world that are starting to see the bigger picture, if I can put it like that, and, and, uh, um, acting as stewards of the future, which is what, [00:46:00] what I called my, my, my first book.

And that is, you know, to understand both today, but also tomorrow and, and act in a, in a way that is good for both the business and, and for the individual and for the society team we work in. No business, no business leader can succeed in a world that fails. So we need to figure out what, what, what kind of world is it that we We want to go towards and, and how, how are we doing that in, in, in the best possible way for all, all of these different stakeholders that, that will influence the road towards success.

wherever it is, we're going to end up and that's, that's where, I mean, that's where, you know, I've been quoting Alison Wonderland quite a bit lately and saying, well, if we don't know where it is, we want to go everywhere else. [00:47:00] Right. So, so that's where, you know, this mind book that I'm writing on about the future boardroom.

Where I think it's, it's important that we think about what does that future look like and how do we ensure that we have the leaders to guide us to that future. And. Well, I mean, the, the board of directors, the, the leadership in, in, in companies have tremendous opportunity and responsibility huge and power to, to move this forward to, to a world where we, we hopefully will have people that thrive and, and, and are happy.

Just reflecting on what Haley said and for her, I think you have such a unique combination Haley because you have this. 30 years of experience and knowledge and, and at the same time you have built a network [00:48:00] of people that are the decision makers. And the combination of both, it's fantastic. So it's, I'm, I'm really hopeful for the future.

Do you know, when I was at school, I had a geography teacher who taught me about the world and basically the abridged version was that my generation and my parents generation have, have messed it all up. And I remember I was about 13, she said, kid, it's, it's your job. Your generation has to fix what we did.

And here I am, semi grown up adult. And I look now at my son, I'm like, wow, kid, I'm really sorry. I didn't find the answers for you. And in primary schools in, in Europe, for six and seven year olds in my local area, I looked at the curriculum and they have a subject on recycling, the environment and sustainability.

And I looked at it and for the first time in many, many years for the first time, I thought just maybe, just maybe his generation are going to be the ones who do it. So now I look at my son and say, come on, you're going to be the boardroom of the [00:49:00] future, the decision maker of the future. And through programs like yours, I really, really hope, and I am hopeful.

I am. If we have enough voices and enough people choosing to work for companies who are making a difference. and stand it up for what they believe in. I think we're going to be all right. We are. I think we are. You know, we, we do an exercise at, at, at the conscious, we have a conscious leaders network and we think we are like this vision of ourselves and how we do we see ourselves in five to 10 years.

And now under You know, if you close your eyes and then you open a newspaper, your favorite newspaper, Helle, maybe, I don't know, The Wall Street, or whatever newspaper or magazine, and then you see bold letters there, Helle, your name, whatever company you're working with, you have quotes from people. What do you see?

What would you like? What would you like to see? Go wild, Hela. Go wild. What does it say? What does it say? Keep it vaguely clean. Keep it vaguely clean. [00:50:00] Oh my. I hope, I hope we have competent boards. I mean, in, in the word, one thing is that the company is called competent boards, but I mean competent boards as, as term all around the world, right?

And then they, honestly, they don't need to put anything about my, me, uh, in there, but nice, but, but, but, you know, I, it's really to have that movement of leaders that are curious, that are competent, that are have the, the, the confidence, but also the conscious continuous learning that are those those leaders that are courageous and, and.

Really move us all, all forward. And I think that's, that's what we're doing. And we are, as I said, we're nearly in 60 countries, so [00:51:00] I hope it will say all countries and, and I think back to what you said earlier, so that we have now this amazing network of board directors, leaders in so many countries working across borders, understanding each other.

So that's another part I really want to make sure that, that we, that we have that global understanding because whatever we want to do from local, local part of point of view, we are impacted by the global and neither climate change or pollution or anything else respect borders. Yeah. So we need, we need to have that cross border collaboration, that understanding, that respect and drive our self and our businesses and the societies we live in towards that state where we say, well, [00:52:00] yeah.

You don't need to sit and say, Oh, I hope my son will do this. And the end, end of the day, we are in, you know, when we had the sustainable development goals coming up or saying, well, we only need this because we F up. Right. And so, so at, at some point it's, it's just to make sure that we understand. That we're now living in a world where we're not have abundant resources that we thought we had that we using them in a wise way that we understand the consequences of what we're doing.

In the book, I have this seven generation principles was actually an indigenous principle of saying, you know, whatever action you take today. What impact will that have seven generations from now, from now, it's again, it's pretty simple, [00:53:00] right? If you start thinking about it and then you start making paths, different choices, powerful, going back to that connection, going back to the connection, not only from a company point of view, don't work in a silo, work with everyone around.

And as we're globally, we're all connected and, and I think we lost kind of how that connection and we're going back, I think with your training, we are insights. People like you are going to help this happen. I am hopeful for the new generation. I have kids and I think I, and I see too, I see they have just a different wiring.

They understand this connectedness massively much better because they live in with it. And for us. Like we grew up in a different world without all this information bombarded with other things. I think it's a little bit more difficult, but for them, I think I'm hopeful that they will bring these [00:54:00] solutions that our world is needing.

I like the two C's that Hela said, sorry, I really like the two C's that Hela said, which was about being conscious and being courageous. If we can create a generation who are both of those things, yeah, we're definitely stand a good chance for sure. Yeah. And I, I agree with you both, but I'm hopeful that all of us, you know, are, and, and again, the, the power I see of all of those that have gone through the Compassion Board program, when I see.

That they are getting board seats when I get people that say, Oh, do you have a board director or potential board director to join our board to bring that insight, to bring that foresight that's so we, we change things as we go. Yes, we all know it's very easy to say, well, it's up to you. So then I can continue doing what, but sorry, we, we [00:55:00] need, it's, it's up to us.

Now. Yeah. It's now. We need to be the difference that we want to see. Yeah. Yes. That's a really fair point, actually. It's, it's, it's in session right now, and you're actually a massive part of changing minds and concepts. And one of the things I really liked that you said was, it's a process, not a project.

And if we keep that in mind, we can actually make a difference tomorrow, not in a generation. It's actually a nice way of looking at it. Yeah. And, and, and again, part of this is awareness and then it is to take to action. Zola, do you, you might remember where in terms of, of modern slavery? When Andrew Wallace, one of our faculty members, so we have these over 180 fantastic faculty members of board, board directors and leaders, et cetera.

Andrew looks at everyone's and says, so how many slaves work for you? And when you've been asked that question and you understand that, [00:56:00] okay, you have a cell phone, you actually have clothes on and you're actually eating, that means that you do. Then, You have to start off yourself. What am I, what am I then doing about it?

So, so that, that awareness is part of it. And then what we do is saying, okay, so how can you also do something about how can you become that, that leader that is seen as the most successful leader, that leader that is really taking things forward, a leader that is there for both the short, but also the longterm, that leader that understand the implications of all of these.

Different, very confusing issues that are hitting us 24 seven and can navigate in that field because they have that path, because they have the knowledge, because they have the network to really bring the business and, and, you know, [00:57:00] stakeholders and, and all of those that, that comes with the business forward.

That's what good looks like. That's what I would like to have on the front page of whatever, whatever article or newspaper you're thinking. Online, online, probably. Online version. Not paper. Behind the playwheels. In the metaverse. Okay. In the metaverse. Guys, it's been such an incredible conversation today.

I wish, I wish we actually had more time. We definitely need to come and speak with you again once you've written this book. I want the sneak preview on this one, for sure. Where can we get it? Where can we get, when can our audience get your book when I know the stories of the future and then you mentioned a new book that is going to be published soon?

Well, soon, everything. Let's take one step and say, yes, Amazon, you know, it's [00:58:00] now Amazon bestseller, Stewards of the Future, a guide for cumpets and boards. So definitely there in different bookstores and the new book, I don't dare give you, um, but it's working. Stay tuned. Stay tuned. Stay tuned. Oh, it's an amazing conversation today, ladies.

Thank you so, so much. So if you're listening to this now. I wanna find out more about competent boards, you need to do the right thing. Jump on the internet now and have a look at competent boards com. That's competent boards com. What an experience. Solidad, thank you for firing the questions and being, uh, our wonderful chair and hella just incredible.

I, I genuinely am inspired and also kind of. I've been given an amazing opportunity to look back and look forward and actually go, we're going to be all right. It's actually all right. Because as long as there's people like you in this world, helping people get better, we stand a fighting chance. [00:59:00] As long as you promise me that you're also going to do the right thing to difference.

I will do my absolute best. That's as good as I can say.

We're trying, we're trying. I think, yes, all of our organizations different, I think. And, and it's also what you mentioned, Helena, progress, not for perfection. It's not that you need to do everything, but where, where try to get this awareness of what is your impact and start from there. Yeah, for sure. Small step, small step, big impact.

Incredible. Ladies, thank you so much. Thank you so much. And thank you for being a part of The Curious Capitalist. Thank you so much for having us. Thank you, Claire. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode of The Curious Capitalist. If you would like to find out more about the CBC or the Conscious Leaders Network, or even join us, visit the website, ConsciousBusinessCollaborative.[01:00:00]

org, that's ConsciousBusinessCollaborative. org. If you have enjoyed this Episode. Please subscribe and share this podcast today. This podcast was created and produced by Red Rock Branding. Red Rock

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