Environmental Social & Governance (ESG)
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors have become a regular item on boardroom agendas, with companies increasingly aware that a failure to address such issues can have significant reputational and financial consequences.
Given the importance of ESG issues, it is key for investors as well as fund managers, consultants and others along the value chain to keep consumer expectations in this area in mind. The same standards of discipline and rigour that businesses apply to reporting on financial information are now expected from investors and stakeholders on non-financial issues, risks and opportunities.
The increasing number of reporting standards and requirements in relation to sustainability, together with internal governance, investor pressure, workplace issues, and the need for ESG reporting, makes this a difficult area for businesses to manage.
Freeths has a long track record of assisting clients in these areas and our ESG team are on hand to steer businesses, boards, individuals, funds, investors, and other stakeholders through the changing route map of national and regional policies, regulations and frameworks.
For details of our own ESG strategy, please click here.
In recent years, it has become impossible to ignore the impact of climate change and environmental decline, and reporting on them has become a mainstay of daily news coverage. This increased focus has put climate change and the green economy high on the agenda for businesses and society alike. This has resulted in increased scrutiny as society calls out for more organisations to be held accountable for their actions.
The management of climate change initiatives remains at the forefront of the political and environmental agendas and pose increasingly difficult and complex challenges for businesses. Such initiatives can provide opportunities for businesses but, equally, they can increase a business’ risk if its environmental challenges are not appropriately addressed.
Freeths has a history of assisting businesses looking to improve their green credentials, including through green financing, renewable energy project development and investment, heat networks, green energy procurement, tackling waste and pollution, improving sustainability in supply chains, biodiversity net gain, nutrient neutrality and water neutrality, and carbon offsetting.
Social risks for businesses include actions that can affect the communities around them, as well as employee engagement, human rights within the workforce and supply chain, gender and diversity, health and safety, and anti-bribery and corruption. Public health issues can also be a concern as they can affect employee and contractor absenteeism and worker morale.
Businesses that can demonstrate a positive impact through strong CSR policies, building closer relationships with local partners and stakeholders, increased transparency and reporting on social risks, and close monitoring of supply chains to co-ordinate and enforce their own policies. Engaging with social risks and being proactive in enforcing them can strengthen a company’s market position. On the other hand, not investing positively to mitigate these social risks can result in hard-won ESG credentials being quickly lost.
Freeths advises on all aspects of social risks and helps businesses put in place policies to cover diversity and inclusion, family and flexible working, anti-harassment and discrimination, human rights, supply chain, modern slavery and working conditions. As staff begin to return to work in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a current and relevant area for businesses to address and we would be happy to discuss any issues or concerns you may have.
One of the cornerstones of a successful organisation is good corporate governance; it helps determine how the organisation operates and behaves both internally and to the market generally, and defines the relationship between the shareholders, management and the rest of the business.
It is imperative that boards and other key decision-makers are visible in taking responsibility for risk management and are accountable for organisational governance. Corporations must have a purpose and set of values beyond profit generation, in order to guide governance, decision-making and strategy.
Freeths has experience of advising businesses on the legal issues that arise around corporate governance, from executive contracts, board composition, competition and antitrust, anti-bribery and corruption, shareholder relations and activism, to the broader corporate strategy of companies and how that operates within a legal framework. In the context of ESG, Freeths can help advise companies on how environmental and social risks translate into good corporate governance.
We also have specific experience of advising companies seeking B Corp status. B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. Any company that can demonstrate a positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment may be eligible to register. Read our article for further information here.
Firms To Watch: Power (Including Electricity, Nuclear and Renewables)
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Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) Lawyers
National Head of Team
0345 030 5820
0345 634 1725
0345 272 5723
0345 030 5767
0345 050 3676
0345 017 8381
0345 166 6265
0345 274 6909
0345 073 8559
0345 128 6950
0345 017 1122
0345 128 6997
0345 126 3758
0345 128 6990
0345 404 4133
0345 050 3206
0345 126 4366
0345 017 1133
0345 030 5855
0345 128 7983
0345 126 4387
Kirstin Roberts FCIWM
0345 166 6299
0345 274 6821
0345 166 6261
0345 030 5728
0345 128 6986
0345 404 4147
0345 126 4382
0345 128 6980
Freeths Retail: Green growth through acquisitions, investments and franchisingPast Events 15th May 2023
Environmental Social & Governance policies – Net Zero TargetsArticles 26th Jan 2023
Decarbonisation through ProcurementArticles 29th Mar 2022
‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.
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Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?
Contact: 03301 001 014