As the focus of lawmakers, regulators, shareholders and society at large increasingly turns to Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") issues, and the extent of legislation, regulation and expectation in this area grows, directors and officers must be mindful of how their duties are evolving. Their decisions, actions, and corporate policies will all be subjected to greater scrutiny and the pressure to pursue ESG-related initiatives or make enhanced disclosures is not without risk.
This is the first of a series of articles considering directors' duties and ESG. Future articles will look at some of the specific issues arising for directors discharging their duties in the context of ESG.
Here, we look at the current legislative and regulatory framework as well as certain of the recent (and upcoming) developments and trends in this area, with which company directors need to be familiar, and examine:
- What is ESG?
- Directors' duties and ESG
- Public companies
- Investors and trustees
- Financial services
- The role of "soft law" and norms
- Forthcoming developments