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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

When it comes to corporate ESG, most focus tends to be on the CEO. CFOs – the ones directly responsible for a company’s money and how it is used – are in the spotlight less frequently. That might be changing, however. According to this from, on a new survey from BDO of 600 CFOs: “CFOs are bracing for a year in which ESG risks are not just a boardroom buzzword, but a critical business reality.”

“… not until now has a majority of CFOs focused on sustainability and other aspects of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) as key strategic activities… Along with that shift, companies’ top objectives for ESG programs have changed in the past year in each of the six industry sectors tracked by BDO. 

In 2023, the major objectives were embedding sustainability into business strategy and managing ESG risks and compliance. In this year’s survey, the big goals are attracting and retaining talent and improving brand reputation, while compliance plummeted to the eighth most important objective.

After improving brand reputation, attracting and retaining talent and improving employee engagement are two of the top three objectives for ESG initiatives.  But the mission of sustainability is not just to appease employees, or customers either, for that matter. The report notes the regulatory environment around sustainability is intensifying, thanks to initiatives including the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting directive, the SEC’s climate-related disclosure rule, and California’s requirements for corporate climate disclosures.”

That last paragraph brings to mind a blog series from a couple years ago “Who Does ESG Really Serve?” (You can read that series here – Parts 1 and Addendum on Investors; Part 2 on Customers; Part 3 on Employees; Part 4 on Stakeholders; Part 5 on Suppliers and the Conclusion).

These survey results mirror the discussions I’ve had with those in the field over the past several months. And why ESG/sustainability practitioners must do their homework on the pragmatic business value of their efforts. We have resources available to members to help you identify ESG business value and communicate those effectively. If you aren’t a member with access to this and other resources, sign up now and take advantage of our no-risk “100-Day Promise” – during the first 100 days as an activated member, you may cancel for any reason and receive a full refund.

If you aren’t already subscribed to our complimentary ESG blog, sign up here: for daily updates delivered right to you.


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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