Legal Update

Feb 21, 2023

Now Available! 2022 Human Capital Disclosure Report: Moving Forward While Still Waiting

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ESG (environmental, social, and governance) is safely part of the business lexicon and continues its march from a “nice to have” to a way of doing business. Companies are carefully assessing and calibrating their ESG strategies, actions, and statements as they navigate looming political threats (actual and perceived) of anti-woke/anti-ESG capitalism, a sharp focus on ESG across the Biden administration and globally, SEC enforcement actions, heightened active investor and consumer scrutiny, and a rising tide of ESG-related shareholder proposals (to name a few). All of this is set against the backdrop of anxieties regarding US and global economic conditions and recessionary concerns. One thing is certain, however, throughout it all: ESG will continue to evolve, and is not going away.

Increasingly it seems that every element of a business has an ESG touchpoint. This is arguably true given that the ESG umbrella of topics is vast. Climate and the environment remain central to the discussion. As an equally dynamic and crucial touchpoint, the business community has focused on human capital management — how must businesses attract, manage, engage, and retain the talented workforces that comprise what is among their most important and valuable intangible assets.

Not only must one consider the audience for whom a company’s disclosures (whether required or voluntary) are directed, but one must also consider the lens through which the disclosures are conveyed for that audience’s viewing. For instance, some disclosures are made to either fend off or respond to shareholder proposals seeking more information, with the presentation of data and information accordingly curated. Others are made as a means to keep up with competitors that have made similar disclosures. Some are made for the strict purpose of controlling a narrative. In this report, we attempt to distill beyond these filtering motivations and influences.