We speak to founder and CEO Adam Woodhall about the important work being done by the newly-rebranded non-profit organisation
Uk-headquartered non-profit organisation ‘Lawyers for Net Zero’ announced yesterday (7 September) that it has changed its name to General Counsel Sustainability Leaders to reflect the work it is doing with general counsel in coaching them to help deliver their organisations’ ESG and sustainability goals.
The organisation launched in June 2021 and at its core provides a programme in which GCs are coached to better support the delivery of their businesses’ ESG commitments and climate goals. Much of the programme revolves around peer-to-peer conversations and ideas exchanges.
The GCs in the programme’s summer 2023 cohort were responsible for aggregated business revenues of £153bn. This is up from £85bn for the spring cohort, and we’re told that it will be well over £200bn for the upcoming autumn cohort, which currently includes the global GCs of Centrica, Specsavers, BUPA, Rolls Royce and National Grid.
The name change announcement was made at Thomson Reuters Legal Leaders Europe 2023 conference and speaking subsequently to Legal IT Insider, CEO and founder Adam Woodhall explained that that the new name is more apt, given that it is general counsel as key decision makers who are involved in the programme. “GCs have a central position in their business and people listen to them,” he told us. “While the GC isn’t going to do all the work, they sit on the board, where typically the head of sustainability doesn’t, so they can constructively support the work being done.”
He added: “When I first started piloting this there weren’t many GCs who thought it was anything to do with them, so what has definitely changed is that at every corporate legal conference now there will be a number of sessions around ESG and sustainability.”
Many organisations are behind on their ESG goals and many struggle with how to resolve complex and thorny issues such as accusations of ‘greenwashing’ which is where an organisation claims to have better ESG credentials than it has in practice. At least one member organisation has been accused of the practice and Woodhall observed: “Their GC shared some solutions with the rest of the group. The programme gives peer-to-peer insights so GCs can learn from one another. By being in a group of people they can start to work out tricky problems by talking with peers who are going through similar issues.”
Commenting on the name change, the global GC of Rolls-Royce, Mark Gregory, who joined the programme in late 2022, said: “We all know that as GCs we need to respond to the multiple demands of ESG and the programme provides a highly effective framework within which to prioritise this work and grow our capabilities. I think the name change is a great step, and look forward to my continued participation.”
To find out more information about how you can get involved see https://www.gcsleaders.com/