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Uniting Chief Legal Officers to Transform Governance – Leaders Summit 2022 Session

ESG News Leaders Summit

Uniting Chief Legal Officers to Transform Governance – Leaders Summit 2022 Session

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Uniting Chief Legal Officers to Transform Governance” live from UN Global Leaders Summit floor.

Featuring Isabella Bunn, Chair of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Committee; Vivianne Gordon-Pullar, Group Chief Compliance Officer at SAP; Ayotola Jagun, Chief Compliance Officer and Company Secretary at Oando PLC; Thomas Kim, Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary at Thomas Reuters.

  • There has been a dramatic increase in public support for laws requiring companies to work for a better society and increasing expectations for business leaders to speak up and act on a broad range of issues.
  • Transformational governance provides a framework to address these rising stakeholder and shareholder expectations by adopting a broader approach to the “G” in ESG.
  • This approach is underpinned by the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions.
  • Legal offices are the natural entry point for engaging on transformational governance and serve as critical “gatekeepers”.
  • Lawyers are increasingly being called upon to lead on ESG within their organizations.

Legal professionals recognize and acknowledge this unique point in history following the social upheavals in the last few years. More than ever, people put companies under microscopes to evaluate business practices and cultures. The chief legal officer role is more important than ever to navigate this new wave of business practices. Isabella Bunn, Chair of the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Committee lead an energizing panel of international chief legal officers from varying industries to address how legal leaders can transform governance. A major theme rose from these discussions: trust. Sharing practices also facilitates collaboration and assists with mitigation measures. Overall, the panel highlighted the call for legal professionals to use their privilege to pursue and advance justice.

From the panel

Ayotola Jagun (Chief Compliance Officer and Company Secretary at Oando PLC)

  • Consumers, clients, and stakeholders now ask important questions: “How can I trust your product? How can I trust your service?”. These questions challenge the traditional structures of how a company board is governed as well as highlight the importance of environmental sustainability.
  • It’s important that companies show they pay attention to the governance side “to build trust with key stakeholders” and because “good ESG also contributes to the bottom line.”
  • Jagun underscored the importance of using metrics to evaluate ethical progress because “what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done.”
  • When you’re dealing with regulators and governments, “it’s better to do it from a united front.”
  • “Learning from each other is key.”

Vivianne Gordon-Pullar (Group Chief Compliance Officer at SAP)

  • Emphasized companies should have purpose and a company’s principles play a critical role in permeating a company’s culture.
  • Sustainability is not a strategy because “we need business to be sustainable”
  • Incorporating sustainability into a company’s value system show companies have a global purpose that is higher than economic success.
  • “Partnership is facilitated because we have the same end goal” and that companies need to “look at value beyond revenue”.
  • “By having a coalition, you can accelerate progress” and “those in pivotal roles need to do just that.”

Thomas Kim (Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary at Thomas Reuters)

  • Noted the importance of defining principles because “you don’t need principles when things are going well”.
  • This movement following the murder of George Floyd is not a fade and companies should formalize aspirational sentiments while restructuring their internal institutions.
  • Collaboration and coalition building are critical components for success in the new post pandemic reality.

This article is part of a series covering the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit. The UN Global Compact (UNGC) Leaders Summit is an annual convening of global stakeholders from the UN, the public and private sectors, and civil society that takes stock of progress of the SDGs so far, and addresses the gaps in knowledge, resources, and funding. The 2022 Leaders Summit, like last year’s summit, will be a hybrid event of live and virtual speakers. Featured venues this year include an in-person event held in Bangkok, as well as virtual plenaries in Latin America, Australia, East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, in addition to UN Headquarters in New York. This inclusive global event — which will run continuously for more than 24 hours — aims to empower business leaders at every level to take collective action and inspire future leaders to embed a sustainability mindset in their work. ESG News is the exclusive media partner of the event, and will cover all 26 panels. To read all of the articles in the series, visit here.

Event Details

Day/Time of Panel: Day 1; 1:00pm EST

Sequence of Panel: 5th panel of Day 1, first after Intermission

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