Business in Society Institute’s Areas of Research
Inside Counsel Think Tank on Sustainability
A strong business case has been made for companies to act responsibly and embrace corporate citizenship, human rights, and sustainability. In a growing number of companies, lawyers are starting to play meaningful roles in advancing corporate responsibility. In too many others, the “siloing” of the legal function from this key corporate strategy prevents companies from advancing corporate responsibility initiatives.
In light of this growing need in the legal profession, Berkeley Law has started an initiative to create curriculum and programs on the role of the lawyer in corporate responsibility. We have partnered with the United Nations Global Compact and Linklaters to build upon The Guide for General Counsel on Corporate Sustainability.
Developing curriculum in this emerging area requires the expertise of inside counsel whose roles increasingly intersect with corporate responsibility. Therefore, we are working with inside counsel who has leveraged their role to advance corporate responsibility. This group will function as a “think-tank” on the role of the lawyer in corporate responsibility.
The investment community has embraced sustainability. Large and institutional investors are focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors that impact the performance of our investments over the long-term. These factors include climate change, diversity and inclusion, supply chain risks, human rights, and governance.
The Institute for Business in Society’s research and programs in this area address:
- Sustainability reporting and disclosure and the proliferation of voluntary standards;
- The fiduciary duties of investors; and
- Leveraging technology to advance ESG integration.
Our research culminates in our marquee event, the annual Berkeley Sustainable Business & Investment Forum (BSBIF).
Fiduciary Duties of the Board, General Counsel, and Compliance Officer
The social license to operate is based on adherence to social norms can be just as important to companies as legal norms. Despite this, corporate responsibility, legal, and compliance functions in companies have traditionally operated independently. However, violations of these “soft-laws” and corporate policies can lead to reputational harm and, in some cases, legal liability.
The Institute for Business in Society is currently researching how the increasing focus on corporate responsibility is impacting the fiduciary duties of the board and the roles of compliance officers and inside counsel.
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