ESG and Sustainability

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Considerations: Redefining Corporate Purpose and Strengthening Sustainability

Society is demanding more from companies than ever before, and the pace of changing expectations is only accelerating. With an increasing focus on rethinking corporate purpose and aligning corporate values at the shareholder, employee, customer and community levels, more and more companies are realizing the significant impact that ESG is having and will have on their competitive position, bottom line and longevity. Investors and companies alike are taking ESG considerations into account in their business decision-making processes.

At the same time, many institutional and retail investors are looking to ESG metrics as a barometer for measuring corporate sustainability, for evaluating portfolio performance and for determining whether to enter into, maintain or exit business relationships. Companies that fail to take ESG principles into account in executing on their corporate strategies and in operating their businesses increasingly risk damaging their reputation and brand and potentially experiencing a withdrawal of capital, talent, customers and/or suppliers.

A wide range of business and legal issues, challenges and opportunities are emerging as result of the rapid evolution and widening adoption of ESG considerations, which need to be taken into account in:

  • identifying, measuring and mitigating risks,

  • preparing customer communications,

  • choosing suppliers,

  • hiring, evaluating and compensating executives and employees,

  • divesting, relocating, closing or reinvesting in manufacturing facilities,

  • meeting public company disclosure obligations,

  • making investment decisions,

  • designing products,

  • choosing distributors,

  • identifying acquisition targets or merger partners,

  • responding to crises,

  • financial reporting

and a host of other strategic and operating matters.

Our Firm’s multidisciplinary ESG and Sustainability team is well-equipped to provide our clients a full menu of advice and support to assist them in integrating ESG thinking into their organizational DNA.

Our ESG team has a robust understanding of the business, industry and market drivers to provide contextualized guidance. We take a holistic enterprise-wide approach, covering a wide range of areas – from board governance to human rights to climate change risks, to provide multi-disciplinary solutions to meet your business priorities.

Corporate Governance and Risk Management

Our team helps identify risks and opportunities, update policies, procedures and codes of conduct, advises on management plans and compliance programs and provides education and training to boards and executive teams on areas including:

  • Board composition and functionality

  • Executive and board compensation

  • Stakeholder engagement

  • Public disclosure

  • Shareholder activism

  • Business ethics and fiduciary duties

  • Reputation and crisis management

Supply Chain/Procurement

Companies with strong performance in ESG take measures to enhance the performance of their entire supply chain globally and carefully scrutinize their business partners. Our team can help with strategies, policies and procedures to select partners with strong ESG performance and address compliance issues, including:

  • Assessment of current supply chain partners and recommended approaches to diversification or other risk management solutions

  • Policies, procedures and contractual requirements to manage supplier and distributor performance, and overall regulatory and commercial risk reduction

  • Advising on supply chain corporate social responsibility, including human rights, environmental and policy implications

Sustainable Finance and ESG Investment

We advise investors, including impact investors, and companies on ESG issues at all stages of investing from fund formation to fundraising to investment selection, acquisition financing, divestment and wind-down.

We provide a holistic approach, covering a wide range of areas – from climate change to human rights and community engagement, including Indigenous engagement, anti-bribery and corruption, anti-money laundering, transparency and disclosure, governance, reputational risk and general risk management.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)

Research shows the benefits to companies that emphasize equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), that go beyond talking the talk to walking the walk. A lack of EDI transparency or progress can adversely impact an organization’s reputation, brand and competitive position. Combating structural discrimination and enhancing diversity at all levels of an organization need to be seen as a top priority. We advise or clients regularly on ways to develop an organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy, policies and programs to bring meaningful, lasting cultural change and mitigate reputational and legal risk.

Environment & Climate Change

Our experienced environmental lawyers advise on carbon markets and opportunities, climate change disclosures, low-emission technologies, and environmental performance standards, including legislative and regulatory developments to support not only your organization’s environmental performance, but also your business objectives and project investment decisions.

Engaging and Partnering with Indigenous Groups

Efforts to create true and lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples continue to grow in all sectors in Canada. We have in-depth experience in advising clients on Indigenous consultation and accommodation and building mutually beneficial relationships and long-term partnerships with Indigenous groups relating to energy, infrastructure, and resource development projects. We help clients navigate the complex Aboriginal law and policy landscape in Canada and have extensive experience negotiating and drafting agreements with Indigenous groups, including joint ventures, impact benefit and relationship agreements, consultation protocols, and leasing arrangements for projects on reserve land.