15 June 2023

‘Many clients are on the same ESG journey as we are’

Unprepared for ESG compliance obligations, Irish companies are reaching out to their law firms and asking: ‘How do we get there?’

The Emerald Isle. Synonymous with an Irish countryside of rolling hills and green valleys, William Drennan coined the phrase in his 1795 poem When Erin First Rose. But it also has contemporary resonance. According to CUP’s latest Sustainable Development Report, Ireland ranks a very respectable ninth among 163 countries – as measured by its performance in the 17 United Nation SDGs (sustainable development goals) – right behind Switzerland and just ahead of the United Kingdom. At a corporate level, environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns are equally paramount for businesses across Ireland.

“ESG is going to influence the way that everyone does business,” says Alan Murphy, head of EY Law Ireland. “The challenge is to move it out of the compliance space into the boardroom.” Directors’ minds are certainly being exercised at a multinational level. “We may have been distracted by geo- political issues, but ESG is still a key item on boardroom agendas,” says Rachel Stanton, head of Simmons & Simmons’ Irish office. “ESG policy and ESG strategy impact organisations from an operational perspective and, along with regulation, drive digitalisation.” But, she notes, “There’s a cost factor (in ESG): how is it funded and how does it impact on strategy?”

 

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