Environment. Social. Governance. Three simple words that are easy to define. But put together they mean something different and powerful.
ESG for short is about our standards of operation. It can mean different things to different companies and law firms, but it is important, a wave of the future. It’s also on-trend on websites, as practice groups, and in RFPs.
ESG is not Y2K; it’s not a fad or just a trend to ignore.
ESG is something that needs to be seriously contemplated in a law firm. It’s not something you can copy/paste onto your website and say, “Yeah, we can help you on this.”
ESG is more akin to a DEI or even CyberSecurity practice. You will be hard-pressed to lead if you are not living these ideals.
ESG and the Law Firm
In my legal marketing group on Facebook, we had two articles on law firms posted today with click-bait-worthy headlines. One definitely falls under the “E” and the other under the “G.” Yet go to these law firm websites and they tout the exact opposite experience.
Our firm has been discussing our G a lot via our #McGlincheyForward vision. In 2020 our governance documents were rewritten to guide our firm into the future. We have created a Chief Diversity Officer position to continue to move not just our diversity but our equity forward. We continue to look internally at how we operate to ensure equanimity not just between people but between our offices.
We are also discussing and defining what the “E” means to us as well as the “S.” We will then look at how we live these ideals? How do we put them into action? How do we measure our success? We can do this all the while helping our clients achieve their ESG goals as well.
ESG and GenZ
I dislike “cancel culture” unless I’m upset and trying to cancel somebody or something. As the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, I am very aware that at any time our attorneys or the firm can become the target of a negative social media campaign.
Social media and cancel culture are here to stay. Gen-Z’s ideals are so different than the Baby Boomers, GenX, and the Millenials. GenZ fully marries their social consciousness with how they live their daily lives and what motivates them. That doesn’t mean they will not participate in corporate America or what it has to offer. I joke that my GenZ kids are social democrats until it comes to flying at which point they fully participate in TSA pre-check, CLEAR, and Comfort+.
To be clear, this mindset includes what law firms GenZ joins as associates, and which law firms they hire as decision-makers.
The older the law firm the longer the list of clients and matters which might not fit today’s environmental, social, or even governance standards. Each firm will have to take inventory and look at their history to see what changes they need to make, or what they need to accept, as we welcome this new generation not just into our law firms as associates this fall, but as our clients.