Society faces complex global challenges—climate change and environmental degradation, social and financial inequality, digital and data security concerns. More than ever before, business is being called upon by multiple stakeholders to be part of the solution to these challenges. The rise of stakeholder capitalism including heightened ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) expectations is one of the most profound changes for business and its
legal construct that has occurred in decades. Whether business strategy has an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to societal solutions depends in large part on the legal, policy and regulatory framework that is constructed.
In this course, we will examine the evolving legal construct of stakeholder capitalism and develop an understanding of the components of ESG: the E (Environmental); the S (Social); and the G (Governance). We will look in turn at the major legal issues and opportunities that come from these potentially profound changes to business including:
• measurement, disclosure and transparency of corporations,
• the advent of ESG products,
• legal and reputational risk management by major brands,
• burgeoning litigation claims,
• the role of and levers of policy makers, NGOs and regulators both at home and globally, and
• the expectations of multiple stakeholders including employees, consumers, shareholders and the community including Indigenous communities.
To do so, we will invite business and practitioner speakers to supplement the readings and legal teaching with the practical insights of those “on the ground” in this fast-developing space.
There is no doubt that the rise of ESG is changing the needed toolkit of lawyers across multiple disciplines and creating new legal fields and innovative areas of expertise. Combining legal theory with exposure to practical application, the course will assist students to develop the necessary tools to advise on legal issues involving ESG and to prepare for the new career opportunities that are arising.