The General Counsel View of ESG Risk
15 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 14, 2021
In this Closer Look, we examine the General Counsel perspective of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) matters. General Counsel offer an interesting perspective because they are charged with advising boards and companies on operating between the guardrails of risk-informed and responsible decision making.
We find that General Counsel, on average, support ESG-related activities but harbor significant concern for the legal and regulatory risk of these activities. General Counsel also express notable concern about the potential liability from disclosure of ESG-related activities, and the reputational and productivity costs caused by CEO and employee-driven activism.
• What impacts do ESG initiatives have on long-term performance and risk?
• Can companies find a balance between “doing good” and not causing unexpected damage?
• How effective are companies at defining the boundaries of their ESG initiatives?
• How much information should companies disclose about their ESG initiatives?
• Can a company clearly, concisely, and meaningfully disclose relevant data about these activities?
Keywords: Corporate governance, ESG, environmental, social, governance, general counsel, risk, litigation risk, disclosure, regulatory risk, CEO activism, employee activism, board of directors, survey, corporate governance research
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