An interview with Melissa Kennedy, Executive Vice President & CLO, SunLife
Your session, “In-house Counsel and Sustainability” focuses on an area of great interest for in-house counsel today, across industries. Why is this topic so important?
As the executor sponsor of sustainability at my company, I encourage other counsel to become involved. I see sustainability becoming more important to our companies, and more of our stakeholders demand it, including investors, clients, employees, suppliers, and regulators.
What’s one thing in-house counsel need to know about advising the C-suite and the board in areas related to corporate sustainability?
Companies that have a direct environmental impact, such those in the extraction sector, have had sustainability issues on their radar for some time. But even companies, like mine in the financial sector, have a role to play. For example, at Sun Life we try to leverage over a trillion dollars of assets under management to be deployed in more sustainable investments.
As CLOs continue to take on expanded roles and more responsibility within various areas of the business, like sustainability and corporate social responsibility, what are some of the biggest opportunities to be considered?
I think there is a natural alignment between lawyers and sustainability; we are usually some of the few employees who are been specifically trained in ideas like justice and human rights. Supporting sustainability is also good for business as the evidence overwhelming supports that sustainable companies have better performance.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ?
As a new member of the ACC board, I am really looking forward to meeting new colleagues in the in-house community in Phoenix.