Background - Practices (Details)

Environmental, Social, and Governance


Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG): no longer a “nice-to-have,” but a business imperative. With political sentiments evolving, 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, and public trust and goodwill.

Today, for a company to focus on ESG, it must evaluate both its policies and behaviors against many complex areas including:

  • Climate Change. Transition to renewable or clean energy, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, net-zero 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; and
  • 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).

Crowell & Moring’s global ESG advisory team, comprised of more than 35 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 emerge alongside continuously evolving voluntary reporting standards, our team draws from its deep government, policy, and industry experience to help our clients navigate this landscape, maximizing opportunities while minimizing risks.

Areas of Service

Our global team offers comprehensive services to help companies mitigate legal risk, protect their interests, and promote good stewardship, while increasing their growth potential. 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:

  • Advertising Assessments and Counseling: Advising on “green claims” and the FTC’s “Green Guides,” sustainability marketing claims, “greenwashing” actions, and policies and practices for compliance, reporting, and litigation defense.
  • Human Capital, Racial Equity, and Civil Rights Audit & Counseling: Analyzing critical ESG exposure actions across all personnel decisions and examining pay equity, representation rates, employment policies, EEO complaint histories, human capital programs, etc. to provide tailored advice to leadership.
  • Forced Labor & Supply Chain Counseling: Advising producers, importers, and exporters on the rapidly evolving laws and regulations, as well as performing risk analyses and facilitating communications with—and enhancing access to—U.S. and international authorities.
  • Climate and Biodiversity Reporting: Advise on voluntary and, increasingly, mandatory reporting requirements regarding GHG emissions, climate-change related impacts, and biodiversity implications of business operations (including transition to renewable or clean energy, net-zero emission and discharge goals, public commitments and related financial risks and opportunities). Evaluate risks and opportunities of climate- and biodiversity-related target-setting and reporting approaches.
  • Environmental Justice Audits: Audit and advise on the environmental justice implications of a company's existing physical footprint and evaluate environmental justice-related risks and opportunities of future projects and permitting needs.
  • Transactions and ESG Due Diligence: Counseling with an ESG lens, on mergers & acquisitions, securities offerings, disclosure requirements, shareholder activism, proxy fights, investor relations matters, providing board governance advice and assessment of ESG risks/compliance for target businesses and funds.
  • Procurement Agreements: Negotiating with suppliers/third-party partners and incorporating key ESG KPIs and T&Cs into agreements such as engineering, procurement, construction, operation, and maintenance contracts.
  • Investigations, Incident Response, and Dispute Resolution: Responding to ESG-related actions brought by authorities on behalf of businesses, boards, or individuals and conducting internal investigations to assess ESG risks.
  • Public Affairs: Creating platforms to shape ESG discussions and their brand narrative, as well as developing local, regional, and international initiatives, coalitions, and partnerships.