Baker McKenzie partners Peter Tomczak and William “Widge” Devaney both have extensive experience in corporate anti-corruption matters, and often interface with boards on compliance related topics. As such, they’ve seen how ESG concerns have trickled up to the board, and how overlaps with anti-corruption mean ethics and compliance professionals in particular are well-suited to support new ESG requirements. They discussed these developments in an interview with Ethisphere editor Tyler Lawrence.
As Peter Tomczak noted, the clear trend has been that ESG is becoming a larger part of the board’s risk oversight function. Corporate compliance and legal departments play a very active role advising boards in terms of understanding ESG issues at a substantive level, and also liaising between the board and various constituencies such as institutional investors, labor, activists, and consumers about how the company is managing specific ESG risks.
Widge Devaney cautioned companies to look very carefully at the representations they make around ESG. Historically, companies could be cavalier and state something as an absolute goal when it was more aspirational. Now, legal and compliance play a big role in helping companies to identify, at the board and managerial level, what goals can be measured, what goals are aspirational, what can and cannot be said, and how companies should say it.
To read the interview in full, please click at the link below.