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An interesting – and likely controversial – development out of Connecticut’s state legislature, pushing a public utility company to publicly name their “top priority” stakeholder. In response to the company’s announcement of the appointment of Joe Nolan as new CEO, Bob Duff, the Connecticut Legislature Senate Majority Leader, sent a short letter to Nolan asking:

As you begin your tenure, I would like to ask one question: out of the three groups you serve, who is your top priority?

1. Customers
2. Shareholders
3. Wall Street Analysts

Some may see this as theater since the legislature could enact laws if they wanted to encourage utilities or other types of companies were required to prioritize a particular set of stakeholders. Possible grandstanding aside, there is something useful here. A few years ago, Famed Harvard and Oxford professor Robert Eccles, along with fellow Harvard prof Tim Youmans came up with the idea that companies should issue a Statement of Significant Audience and Materiality.  They have since renamed this the Statement of Purpose. Among the benefits of issuing such a statement is explicitly identifying the company’s point of reference for defining what is “material” in an ESG context.

While I probably wouldn’t start a business scalping tickets to ESG theatrical events, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more corporate developments – and possibly legislator activity.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile