National firms ramp up ESG efforts in new initiatives

Corrs debuted a podcast while McCullough Robertson established an ESG-focused advisory business

National firms ramp up ESG efforts in new initiatives
Dr Phoebe Wynn-Pope (Corrs), Louise Horrocks (McCullough Robertson)

Corrs Chambers Westgarth and McCullough Robertson have ramped up their environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts with new initiatives focused on this area.

Corrs debuted its Essential ESG podcast, which examines ESG issues not just in Australia but overseas as well to help organisations stay on the pulse of the latest developmentsa in this space. The podcast is being hosted by the firm’s head of responsible business and ESG Dr Phoebe Wynn-Pope.

“The aim of Essential ESG is to break down complex topics into bite-sized insights, discuss the many and interrelated risks and opportunities associated with ESG considerations, and highlight the importance of a holistic organisational-wide approach,” Wynn-Pope explained. “For example, when addressing the ‘E’ (environmental) considerations in the race to net zero, we need to be very mindful of the unintended consequences to ‘S’ (social) and ‘G’ (governance) considerations too, such as the risk of increased exposure modern slavery within the supply chain.”

She pointed out that in the present climate, ESG needs to be high on the list of priorities for businesses.

“There is mounting pressure on the public and private sector to deliver on commitments to the Paris Agreement and ensure a ‘just transition’,” Wynn-Pope said. “In addition, organisations seeking to attract capital, retain investors and shareholders, and appeal to the next generation of employees and consumers, realise that ESG must remain high on their agenda.”

Joining the podcast are experts in the various aspects of ESG, as well as Corrs’ own subject matter experts.

McCullough Robertson’s advisory business

Meanwhile, McCullough Robertson established an ESG advisory business christened McR ESG. The business aims to provide guidance to the firm’s clients in developing strong ESG strategies and responses.

“ESG has been a developing area for some time, but has seen a recent surge in importance with organisations challenged more frequently by stakeholders to articulate their position on complex ESG themes,” McCullough Robertson partner Louise Horrocks said. “With shareholder activism on the rise and regulators increasing their focus amid claims of greenwashing, responding to ESG has become increasingly complex and this will continue as we move closer to mandatory ESG reporting amongst other regulatory developments.”

Horrocks has been appointed to head up the new advisory business on the strength of her experience with global sustainability and industry transition. She explained that rising demand for both legal and non-legal advice in the ESG space was a catalyst in launching the business.

“There is rising pressure on organisations to remain ahead of stakeholder expectations with a strong corporate ESG response, but more importantly, a strategic and stakeholder aligned ESG response can unlock incredible opportunities and create competitive advantage,” Horrocks said. “This is an emerging area in need of advisors with a multi-disciplinary skillset who truly understand and have worked within industry.”

McR ESG commences operations as McCullough Robertson draws closer to its centennial. It aims to aid clients in building on key stakeholder relationships, identifying appropriate ESG investments and diving into profitable sustainability practices, the firm said.

“I am proud to be leading the charge in extending this industry focused service to provide strategic, commercial and legal advice, and I look forward to partnering with new and existing clients to explore the unique opportunities available to them,” Horrocks said.

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