I had the opportunity to sit with the chairman of a long-term client of ours at a dinner recently. By the main course we got talking about how increasingly important corporate social responsibility, values and sustainability are for many businesses.
There are some interesting attempts to create new ways of measuring the impact of companies on society and the environment instead of just measuring profitability. Both the chairman and I agreed that the increased focus on the overall impact of companies brings a new and exciting aspect to the evaluation of companies and their success. From there we went on to discuss what this overall development means for our respective businesses.
At D&I we have for a number of years analysed corporate social responsibility and its legal framework. It is clear that corporate social responsibility has a solid basis in Finnish company law and that there is an obligation on board members and management to consider corporate social responsibility issues in their decision-making.
For us, D&I’s corporate social responsibility means things like being a “WWF Green Office”; being a fair, equal and inspiring workplace for all and we as a company being ethical in all we do.
At the same time it is deeply embedded in our firm culture that we want to contribute to causes, which we feel are important, such as protection of the environment, world peace and children in need. Our work for our pro bono partners WWF, CMI, Ronald McDonalds Childrens’ House and the Finnish Hospital Clowns brings a whole different dimension to our workplace and we are very proud to play even a small part in their important work.
But what does the increased focus on values, good corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility and sustainability mean when it comes to the core of our work, rendering legal advice?
Our aim is always to provide insightful advice – tailored advice to help our client reach its objectives. The advice should not be limited to what is legally acceptable, but rather take into account the client’s situation and the circumstances as a whole. We genuinely try to come up with concrete solutions that are wise, feasible and sustainable for the specific client under the prevailing circumstances.
The challenge is to combine such concrete insightful advice with giving our increasingly value driven customers an understanding of the choices that the client makes if it decides to follow our advice. Our task is not only to give insightful advice and suggest concrete actions, it is also to bring transparency to the underlying choices that the client has to make when choosing their course of action.
Every piece of insightful advice we render entails a number of choices where our client may wish to choose differently, depending on the values that guide its business. Our task is to assist our clients in making those choices deliberately. This is of course easier where we as advisors are aware of the client’s values. The better we know our clients, the easier it is to understand the choices the client wishes to make and not make.
This is yet another reason why we believe that close long-term relationships with clients allow for creating exceptional added value.
Let’s build a better world together by making deliberate choices based on the values we believe in!