Why a Corporate Sustainability Lawyer?
Why should a company work on corporate responsibility issues with a sustainability lawyer? Because non-binding soft law and legally binding regulation increasingly define what corporate responsibility is. Sustainability lawyers can provide you with regulatory expertise, which is at the core of our work. Opinio Juris - Sustainability Lawyers help you in clarifying and understanding the complex normative field of corporate responsibility.
The following points summarise the drivers and added value of corporate responsibility for your business:
Drivers and added value of corporate sustainability:
Regulation and compliance: The most important driver currently is the increasing amount of corporate responsibility regulation. In particular, the EU introduces significant and substantial legally binding regulation for companies. This is why we talk about the EU's regulatory tsunami. Although the EU legislation (through its Member States' national laws) especially applies to large companies, the binding regulation practically and widely affects all companies. This is because larger companies have to require responsibility even from small companies in their own value chains.
At a minimum, a responsible company understands and implements the requirements of national and EU legislation relevant to its corporate responsibility work. It is important to understand that many EU Member States' national laws, for example labor legislation and anti-discrimination standards, have elements relevant to corporate responsibility.
A truly responsible company also implements non-legally binding international responsibility guidelines, which are especially defined by the UN Global Compact, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD guidelines.
- Expectations from stakeholders: The number of companies' various stakeholder groups, which ask for responsible business conduct, are growing all the time. Consumers, business customers, owners, investors and lenders increasingly demand corporate responsibility. If a company cannot demonstrate that it operates responsibly, it may not appear as a reliable partner and customer.
- Risk management: The increasing corporate responsibility regulation regime requires that the company understands its corporate liability risks and what kind of measures the company is required to take. Implementing corporate responsibility measures helps to manage a company's business risks. This is important because the regulation requires that companies should implement human rights due diligence measures both in their operations and in global supply chains.
- Business opportunities: Corporate responsibility opens up business opportunities. As the World struggles with many sustainability crises, those companies that prevent and minimise the negative effects of their business operations on people, the environment and society (do no harm) strengthen their business opportunities. Those companies whose products can also be used to produce solutions to sustainability crises (climate crisis, food crisis, etc.) (do good) have a strong business case.
An important driver for your company is undoubtedly its brand and reputation: Proactively embracing corporate responsibility not only mitigates the risks of negative media exposure but also positions your company for significant gains. By genuinely and strategically integrating corporate responsibility into your business ethos, you transform potential losses into opportunities for growth, innovation, and leadership in sustainability. A company renowned for its responsibility efforts builds a resilient and esteemed brand, reflecting a commitment to positive change and long-term sustainability.
Corporate responsibility creates numerous business benefits
Conducting business responsibly is not only profitable but also grants a social license to operate. Corporate responsibility significantly boosts a company's appeal and retention capabilities concerning skilled employees, investors, and customers. Furthermore, responsible actions enable a company to access sustainable finance and favorable terms under the EU taxonomy regulation. Embracing corporate responsibility positively impacts the company's profitability, productivity, competitiveness, and overall performance.
You may take a look at the following publications for comprehensive and researched insights into corporate responsibility:
- OECD: Responsible Business Conduct Matters (pdf)
- Liappis, Pentikäinen & Vanhala: Menesty yritysvastuulla – Käsikirja kokonaisuuteen (2019), s. 34-35