Akhil Prasad and Manoj Kumar Agarwal explain why general counsel should make corporate sustainability a priority

General counsel around the world are increasingly being called upon to play a new and more central role in determining a company’s approach to delivering sustainable value to stakeholders (including employees, local communities, governments, NGOs and shareholders). The value of proactive general counsel in the design, implementation and management of corporate responsibility-related policies, processes and initiatives is becoming more widely recognized.

Corporate sustainability refers to the combination of value creation and corporate responsibility. It involves both risk management and opportunity creation. Corporate sustainability goals are pivotal for businesses and are rising up to the top of many company agendas. Counsel who prioritize corporate sustainability can contribute to an organization in a variety of ways.

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in partnership with Linklaters recently developed a Guide for General Counsel on Corporate Sustainability (G4CC), which provides practical tools drawn from experiences and global best practices to enable corporate counsel to become leaders in this area. An advisory board for the G4CC was constituted to help UNGC and Linklaters with the G4CC (see G4CC Advisory Group at the bottom of this page).

This article examines the concept of corporate sustainability, requirements under India’s Companies Act, 2013, in this area, and why general counsel should view this as a chance to enhance value for stakeholders.

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Akhil Prasad is the country counsel for Boeing in India. He has been an in-house lawyer for over 22 years, and was previously with Xerox, Electrolux, GM, Disney and Fidelity. Manoj Kumar Agarwal is an associate professor in the faculty of commerce and business administration at Meerut College in Meerut.