This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts. Here is the second in our series.
You might be surprised to learn what your clients expect from you. A growing number of companies have signed on to the United Nations Global Compact—more than 12,000 in 165 countries. They’re committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and they expect vendors and suppliers to also commit toward a more just and sustainable world. Yes, this includes law firms and other professional service providers.
Partnership for the Goals—Using your legal expertise to lead change
As your clients and prospects embrace the UNSDGs, many, if not all would benefit from the skills, talents, and knowledge of the legal industry. Perhaps more than any profession, lawyers shouldn’t just BE the change they want to see in the world, but perhaps should be LEADING the change. As client companies step up, so should their lawyers—including in-house and outside law firms—to help achieve the changes necessary to progress toward these goals.
Goal number 17 – Partnerships for the Goals encourages signatory companies to ensure supply chain firms and vendors—including law firms—are also committed to making progress on the global goals. Hence, you may be seeing greater scrutiny than ever from clients during the RFP process, with probing and specific questions about your firm’s corporate responsibility and social impact programs. And these expectations go well beyond ProBono programs and Diversity & Inclusion efforts. This practice will only continue to increase as demands for change and the expectations of all stakeholders grow exponentially.
Goal #17 also encourages partnerships of all types to help make greater progress than any one organization could achieve alone. This is a tremendous opportunity for law firms to engage with their clients to work toward the global goals that are most relevant and material to them. Partnerships deepen relationships between companies when they collaborate to achieve even greater social impact.
Are your clients signators of the UN Global Compact?
You can take these simple steps to learn whether your clients are signators of the UN Global Compact and/or are working on any of the UNSDGs.
- Simply ask. Being proactive in this conversation can only help your position as a trusted advisor for all your clients’ business needs—including social impact and sustainability—as well as legal issues.
- Refer to the UN Global Compact website. Use the website search function to find your clients’ names and determine if they’re signators.
- Review your clients’ websites. Most companies who have joined the UN Global Compact and/or are using the UNSDGs as a framework for their social impact programs celebrate this on their website. Their specific social impact initiatives often are tied to the relevant UNSDGs their program aligns with. Your clients’ website will reveal their priorities for social impact programs.
Pam Cone is the Founder and CEO of Amity Advisory, and Global Social Responsibility Officer at Milliman.