Background - Practices (Details)

Environmental, Social, and Governance


Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is no longer an aspirational goal, but a business imperative. With evolving political sentiments, purchasing behavior reflecting perceptions of corporate responsibility, and increased focus around employee wellness, ESG is a top-of-mind issue for consumers, the C-suite, boards, and investors. Businesses that do not incorporate ESG principles into their core business strategy and execute them stand to lose a lot—including shareholder value, revenue, reputational harm, and goodwill.

ESG considerations offer businesses significant opportunities to position themselves as forward-thinking organizations that provide long-term value to their shareholders, investors, and customers, and produce meaningful impact within their corporate culture. At the same time, ESG policies can create or crystallize risks that must be identified and mitigated. For companies to be recognized as ESG-focused—meaning that both their policies and their behaviors emphasize sustainability and social responsibility—they must concentrate on the myriad areas concerning internal and external stakeholders, including:

  • Supply Chain and Procurement Transparency. Environmental impacts (including supply chain and lifecycle decarbonization) and human rights due diligence (including forced labor, environmental rights, and equity considerations);
  • Climate Change. Transition to renewable or clean energy, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, net-zero emission and discharge goals, public commitments and related financial risks and opportunities;
  • Workplace Issues. Labor rights, the company’s impact on diverse communities, its internal diversity and inclusion policies, and gender equity (including, among others, pay equity); and
  • Governance Issues. Board governance responsibilities, C-Suite compensation structures, board director election processes, and ethics and compliance program performance, including building a culture of integrity and proactive risk management.

Crowell & Moring’s global ESG advisory team, comprised of more than 70 lawyers, directors, and consultants, helps organizations understand and manage the potential risks of ESG issues, formulate corporate strategies, implement ESG-focused best practices, and capitalize on the opportunities that arise. As new legal and regulatory frameworks are created alongside continuously evolving voluntary reporting standards, our team draws from its extensive government, policy, and industry experience to help our clients navigate this landscape, maximizing opportunities while minimizing risks.

Areas of Service

With an eye toward the disparate needs of a wide spectrum of stakeholders, our global ESG advisory team offers comprehensive services to help companies protect their interests, promote good stewardship, and establish reporting initiatives that will directly enhance their organization’s leadership role as global citizens, while increasing their growth potential and other measures of success. We work with key opinion leaders outside of industry and build partnerships with respected organizations so that our initiatives and messages are trusted and welcomed by governments. Our ESG team offers business counsel on:

  • Global policy, regulatory, and legislative development and advocacy. Analyzing issues ranging from environmental compliance and corporate governance to public company disclosures and government contract procurement, and advocating for our clients’ interests in response to proposed regulatory and legislative requirements.
  • Legal and business policy/practice analysis, development, and best practice implementation. Evaluating the policies and practices that organizations implement to comply with relevant legal and regulatory frameworks and, increasingly, assisting clients in adopting and implementing ESG policies voluntarily to align with stakeholder imperatives. This includes voluntary disclosure practices, supply chain management, executive compensation policies, data privacy, and cybersecurity measures.
  • Transactional risk evaluation and compliance. Working with organizations to identify, understand, and manage governance risks and liabilities in transactions by conducting due diligence across a broad array of areas, including environmental law compliance, executive compensation, and employment practices, and by negotiating the appropriate allocation of those risks and liabilities amongst all involved parties.
  • Crises, investigations, litigation, and alternative dispute resolution. Representing clients in responding to and managing environmental, energy, and employment incidents, data breaches, and white-collar investigations matters.
  • Complex commercial contract management. Negotiating complex agreements, such as engineering, procurement, and construction contracts, and operation and maintenance agreements, and counseling clients on related issues with respect to subcontractors, vendors, customers, and other third parties.
  • Public affairs engagement. Creating platforms to enable organizations to shape ESG discussions and their brand narrative, as well as developing initiatives and partnerships with trusted institutions to achieve results and show sustained action and progress toward public commitments.