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Collins C Ngwakwe ORCID logo, Fortune Ganda ORCID logo, Oladele John Akinyomi ORCID logo


This paper examined the stance of independent directors on corporate sustainable development initiative in South Africa and Nigeria. This has become apposite considering the role of independent directors in corporate strategic decisions and performance. It is believed that independent boards strive to direct corporate decisions to protect the investors and thus improve financial performance. Given that sustainability initiative is currently occupying a vital strategic position in protecting firms against inherent and imminent climate change and financial risks, the paper undertakes a survey of South African and Nigerian companies to ascertain the role of independent directors on corporate sustainable development initiatives. Using a mix method of primary and secondary data analysis, the paper finds that independent boards in both countries of study understand the importance of sustainability; however a pragmatic stance on sustainability is more visible in South Africa where independent boards are members of and/or participate in nominating corporate sustainability committees. The paper suggests the need for improved detailed disclosure on sustainability in the Nigerian corporate annual reports; the Nigerian Stock Exchange may boost this initiative by establishing a social and environmental reporting index supported by an annual survey of company sustainability disclosure. It also suggests the need to include sustainability awareness and interest in the metrics that are used in the appointment of independent boards in Nigerian companies.

Keywords: Independent Directors, Sustainability Disclosure, Corporate Governance, Corporate Strategy

How to cite this paper: Ngwakwe, C. C., Ganda, F., & Akinyomi, O. J. (2014). Independent board of directors and corporate sustainability: A South African and Nigerian perspective. Journal of Governance and Regulation, 3(1), 58-68.