How are Corporations Putting Sustainability Into Practice? Building a Bridge Between the Ivory Tower and the Private Sector

Author: Danielle Santos | UC Berkeley School of Law | Research & Project Associate | Posted: July 10, 2019 | Download PDF

 

How are corporations putting sustainability into practice? Last week at the annual National Business Law Scholars Conference, which drew scholars from across the United States and around the world, Prof. Amelia Miazad’s plenary panel built a bridge between the ivory tower and the private sector by delving into the transformative governance reforms happening at America’s most groundbreaking corporations. The panel featured illuminating perspectives from corporate counsel; Keir Gumbs, Deputy Corporate Secretary and Associate General Counsel, at UberTechnologies; Stefanie Tang, Director of Legal, Corporate Securities at Stitch Fix and member of the SASB Standards Board; Chris Power, Manager of SEC Reporting and Technical Accounting at Salesforce; and Bruce Lymburn, General Counsel of Clifbar. 

    During the panel, Keir Gumbs, Associate GC of Uber discussed how the corporation’s radical transformation characterized by transparency was “very difficult” to bring about, and required a complete “revamping of Uber’s culture.” Before 2017,  former CEO & Co-founder Travis Kalanick’s (culturally appropriative) values, “Toe steppin” and “Always be hustlin”–two of his 14 values– were central to the ridesharing giant’s mission. Under Covington & Burling’s recommendation, Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi released eight new cultural norms which effectively replaced Kalanick’s 14 previous values. The eight new norms are intended to be updated as the company evolves. Gumbs explained that this was one of the primary steps to moving from– what Khosrowshahi describes as– “an era of growth at all costs,”  “to one of responsible growth…” 

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MLB’s Political Donations

Author: Madeleine Smith | UC Berkeley School of Law | J.D. Candidate 2020 | Posted: February 15th, 2019 | Download PDF

The World Series ended over a month ago, but, this weekend, Major League Baseball was back in the headlines.

A flurry of critical commentary began when Judd Legum of Popular Information broke the news that the MLB, through the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball PAC, had donated $5,000 to the campaign of highly-criticized Mississippi Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.[1] Then, the day after the story broke, the MLB publicly requested that Hyde-Smith’s campaign return the funds.[2] (more…)

Do No Evil or Do the Right Thing?

Author: Angeli Patel | UC Berkeley School of Law | J.D. Candidate 2020 | Posted: February 15th, 2019 | Download PDF

In 2010, Google withdrew from China because of its censorship laws and online hacking. Now, it is working on a search engine for China that will censor websites and search terms that are blacklisted by the Chinese government. What’s going on?  

The Chinese government has long believed in “internet sovereignty,” a concept where each country has the right to regulate its own internet—it has already achieved this vision by building The Great Firewall of China. It is also helping other authoritarian countries develop similar online architecture. For China, this also means being able to build mass surveillance and censorship systems. The development of AI makes automated, machine controlled surveillance a dystopian nightmare. The Chinese State Council announced in 2017 that it aims to become the world A.I. leader by 2030, and outperform its rivals to build a domestic industry worth almost $150 billion. Search engines are the biggest data source required to build an accurate AI system. When Google withdrew, it left Baidu, Google’s main competitor in China, to rack up the rest of the market share, and data, of the world’s largest internet market. What is Google’s role now given China’s 2030 goal?

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If Diversity Is Not a Pipeline Problem

Author: Esther Yang | UC Berkeley School of Law | J.D. Candidate 2020 | Posted: February 14th, 2019 | Download PDF

As the investor community agreed and acknowledged, diversity makes companies more productive and retains talent.[1]  A study by McKinsey & Company also showed that it was “increasingly clear that [diversity] makes sense in purely business terms.”[2] After examining proprietary data sets for 366 in public companies across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States for several years, McKinsey found that “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”[3] The research showed that in the United States, “there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior executive team, earnings before interest and taxes rise 0.8 percent.”[4] While correlation doesn’t equal causation, there is a general consensus that diversity is and will continue to be an increasingly important to institutional investors, pension funds, employees, and other stakeholders. (more…)

Investors Focused on Climate Change Should Integrate Land Rights into their Renewable Energy Investment Strategies

Author: Trudie Makens | UC Berkeley School of Law | J.D. Candidate 2020 | Posted: February 14th, 2019 | Download PDF

As of the end of 2017, $12 trillion or more of the $46.6 trillion under professional management in the United States was invested pursuant to sustainable, responsible and impact investing (“SRI”) strategies.[1] This is up 38% from $8.7 trillion in 2016.[2] The drivers of SRI growth are asset managers who value environmental, social and corporate governance (“ESG”) criteria to generate long-term financial returns and social good.[3] The most important ESG issue that asset managers were focusing on in their SRI strategies was climate change.[4] Among institutional investors, climate change was also one of their top three issues.[5] (more…)