plants growing with a spiral light bulb at the end
plants growing with a spiral light bulb at the end

As social, environmental and governance imperatives are gaining in importance and there is growing awareness that today’s business risks are increasingly rooted in ESG factors, McMillan is pleased to announce its expanded Sustainability/ESG offering.

Responding to Growing Expectations

The ESG Initiative is in response to growing expectations — from boards, investors, regulators, employees, customers, vendors, and communities — that companies must show leadership on ESG or risk being punished for lack of transparency and compliancy.  For example, central bankers are flagging the risks of climate change. Social media activists are driving up public attention and driving down share prices of companies that are offside. Global protests like Black Lives Matter are demanding that companies work to create a more just and equitable world. Major investment houses are highlighting sustainability as a core investment focus. Media outlets are exposing that the gender gap can no longer be ignored.  And governments are paying attention – using regulation to change market behaviour and impose increased costs.

Effective ESG Advice for C-Suite

The corporate governance landscape is rapidly evolving in the face of internal and external pressure from investors, stakeholders, activists, and regulators for more sustainable ESG-focused governance models. The Sustainability/ESG Initiative will assist boards of directors, C-Suite executives, executive leadership teams, chief legal officers, general counsels, chief sustainability officers and business managers to develop and implement strategies to consider, manage, and report on challenges and opportunities related to ESG and sustainability issues.

Helping Entrepreneurs Execute Clean-Tech Ideas

Increasingly ambitious and entrepreneurial founders are developing new ventures and technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve environmental sustainability, and provide other climate-related solutions. These new endeavors face a wide range of novel legal and regulatory issues, from corporate structuring, capital raising, shareholder relations, tax issues, and intellectual property — all of which require a thorough understanding of the industry and expert counsel to navigate new trends.

Delivering full-service Sustainability and ESG Services all in One Shop

At McMillan, the Sustainability/ESG Initiative provides fully-integrated ESG services.  We advise companies on key environmental, social and governance aspects of their business, from mergers and acquisitions in the clean energy space (and M&A opportunities driven by environmental considerations) to equity/diversity/inclusion and to sustainable investment strategies. We also help companies understand what needs to be done to build toward being net-zero by 2050.  Most importantly, we understand ESG risks and challenges and bring you the greatest value, by offering the full-suite of legal and business services all under one banner.

Driving Differentiation and Value Creation

At McMillan, we can help companies not only understand the risks of environmental, social and governance inaction but how to turn these risks into opportunity for differentiation.  As part of Canada’s recovery strategy, stakeholders will expect companies to be even more engaged in social, governance and environmental practices.  Moving forward, corporate leaders have the opportunity to take the lead by meeting these expectations and bringing sustainable business models rooted in ESG principles to market.  We believe in the importance of doing business differently — and the evidence increasingly confirms that companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to ESG are outperforming their competition on key financial measures such as financial performance, market valuation and shareholder value creation.

Providing the Sustainability and ESG Legal and Business Services You Need

McMillan’s can help clients across the full environmental, social and governance spectrum:


M&A and Corporate Strategy
  • Advise sustainability, ESG and clean-tech focused clients to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the capital markets (e.g., stock exchange listings, private placements, public offerings, strategic investments from private equity funds, and other ESG focused financial products).
  • Advise potential targets and prospective buyers (issuers, funds, and financial institutions) in acquisitions and divestitures and M&A decision making, including the selection of targets, due diligence, integration and corporate governance with a focus on ESG issues.
  • Advise on integration of ESG strategies in investment policies, governance structures, and decision-making roles for private equity firms, investment funds and other privately held entities such as family offices (such as Principles for Responsible Investment).
  • Advise on the impact of ESG issues on project structures, financing terms and financing sources particularly in the international joint-venture space and export oriented Canadian clean-tech companies.
Sustainable Finance
  • Advise on the development and implementation of innovative structures and terms for green and sustainability-linked financings, including compliance with voluntary standards, such as Equator Principles, Green, Social and Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles.
  • Work with clients to engage institutional and activist funds and other stakeholders in respect of ESG-related matters.
  • Advise on financing, regulatory, and development issues relating to battery storage, carbon capture, storage and hydrogen projects.


  • Advise executive management and boards of directors on fiduciary duties and best practices for overseeing ESG matters, including committee mandates, governance designs and responding to shareholder proposals.
  • Advise public and private companies on ESG disclosure frameworks developed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the Global Reporting Initiative and related disclosure considerations.
  • Advise on integration of ESG metrics into governance matters such as board composition, executive compensation, and stakeholder engagement including peer group analyses and benchmarking assessments.
  • Advise on best practices related to ESG issues arising out of governance policies, codes of conduct and compliance programs.
  • Provide ongoing education and training to directors and officers of public companies and institutional investors about ESG, including how to address questions and comments raised by proxy advisory firms such as ISS and Glass Lewis.
  • Assisting industry associations or other groups to pursue sustainability/ESG issues on a collaborative basis in compliance with competition and other applicable legal requirements.


  • Advice on equity, diversity and inclusion policies, including issues related to racial equality, and practices regarding the makeup of senior management and board of directors, and the gender gap.
  • Help clients address challenges and opportunities on stakeholder issues such as employees, suppliers, customers, human rights, supply chain, and working conditions.
  • Advise companies, for-profit social enterprises, not-for-profit organizations and hybrid entities on impact finance, related governance issues and fund formation.
  • Advise on issues impacting relations with Indigenous communities, including community consultation and engagement, joint venture negotiation, project support, impact benefit agreements, and engaging with local and Indigenous communities.
  • Assist large organizations in managing and complying with anti-bribery and corruption legislation in the jurisdictions they operate throughout their supply chains.

Bringing Government Relations / Regulatory Consulting / Stakeholder and Public Relations Value

Sustainability and ESG factors are top of the mind amongst government officials and regulators. McMillan is uniquely placed to help you navigate the responsible public officials and government ministries through its affiliated public affairs group, McMillan Vantage. Vantage includes former ministers of the Crown, deputy ministers and chiefs of staff to Prime Ministers and other senior officials who understand the value of effective advocacy and can help you make the right case to the right people.

Through broad government experience and a large network of contacts, McMillan Vantage is well positioned to bring your ESG agenda to the attention of public authorities at all levels of government. Together, McMillan and Vantage can help reduce bureaucratic delay, avoid regulatory uncertainty and add real value to your business.  In addition, we can help manage your corporate reputation and build new and deeper relationships with civil society leaders and Canadians, alike.

Working together with the legal team, Vantage can avoid costly duplication by building on the sophisticated legal analysis of McMillan team members. Vantage services include:

  • Government relations counsel
  • Policy and regulatory analysis
  • Procurement strategy
  • Strategic communications services, including Corporate Purpose development and strategies
  • Stakeholder and community relations
  • Employee and customer engagement

With McMillan Vantage, we have an in-house national public affairs firm which is unique amongst leading Canadian business law firms. This can help us distinguish our ESG service offerings to established and emerging clients.

Primary Contact

View All Contacts
Stephen D. Wortley
Chair, Hong Kong Office
Partner, Capital Markets & Securities | Chief Client Officer

Insights (19 Posts)

Featured Insight

ESG in Canada: What We Learned in 2021 and Looking Ahead to 2022

In this rapidly evolving business environment, this report from McMillan’s ESG Initiative offers companies and business leaders in Canada an essential overview of ESG developments in regulations, laws and norms that have occurred over the last year.

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Mar 4, 2022
Featured Insight

CSA Propose Standardized and Reinforced Climate-Related Disclosure — Primer on Proposed National Instrument NI 51-107 Disclosure of Climate-related Matters

McMillan Bulletin Proposed National Instrument 51-107 Disclosure of Climate-related Matters Canadian Securities Administrators Climate Change Disclosure

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Oct 25, 2021
Featured Insight

The pitfalls associated with sustainability-linked bonds

Short article on the pitfalls associated with sustainability-linked bonds.

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Sep 8, 2021
Featured Insight

“Say on Climate” — Key Considerations in Implementing Shareholder Votes on Climate

Shareholder engagement on climate-related matters continues to grow across the globe, including Canada, these issues are a key focus area for public companies

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Jul 16, 2021
Featured Insight

An International Overview of Existing Climate-Related Insurance Initiatives: Finding the Right Path for Canada

Part of our ESG initiative, this article summarizes existing climate-related insurance initiatives and suggests programs that may be most successful in Canada.

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Jun 30, 2021
Featured Insight

Canada’s Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Creates Green Incentives for Regulated Facilities

Publication of Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Regulations under section 195 of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

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Apr 7, 2021
Featured Insight

Canada’s new mandatory 100% ZEV target is a rapid charge forward.
What we think this announcement means for OEMs, Canadian industry, and more

Canada has announced a mandatory 2035 target for 100% ZEV sales. McMillan and McMillan Vantage Policy Group share what this may mean for OEMs, industry and more.

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Jul 12, 2021
Featured Insight

Charging Ahead: Alberta and Saskatchewan Joining Forces with Ontario and New Brunswick on Small Modular Reactors

Update on developments in nuclear energy and small modular nuclear reactors in Canada, including the memorandum of understanding that was recently signed.

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May 26, 2021
Featured Insight

Climate, Credit & Canada – Growth of Green Bonds, Sustainability-Linked Credit and Net-Zero Banking

Climate, Credit & Canada - Growth of Green Bonds, Sustainability-Linked Credit and Net-Zero Banking

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Jun 7, 2021
Featured Insight

Greening Canadian Borders – Canada Considers Border Carbon Adjustments for Carbon-Intensive Imports

Border Carbon Adjustments are being explored by various countries including Canada in its 2021 Budget to support climate change initiatives.

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Jul 6, 2021
Featured Insight

ICMA Green Bond Principles Undergo Minor Facelift

Legal news bulletin discussing recent changes to ICMA Green Bond Principles.

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Jun 17, 2021
Featured Insight

Opportunities for Canadian Biotech Companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange

Opportunities for Canadian Biotech Companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange

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May 18, 2021
Featured Insight

Primer on Canadian Federal and Provincial Cleantech Funding Programs

Across Canada, entrepreneurs are striving to develop technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve environmental sustainability, and provide other climate-related solutions to the domestic and international markets.

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May 25, 2021
Featured Insight

Significant Changes to Canada’s Federal Environmental Protection Regime Proposed

The government of Canada is proposing significant changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 through the introduction of Bill C-28.

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Apr 28, 2021
Featured Insight

Supreme Court of Canada Upholds Federal Carbon Pricing Regime

In a decision released March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is constitutional.

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Mar 29, 2021
Featured Insight

Taking Stock of Governance — Understanding Emerging ESG, Regulatory, and Market Trends

Taking Stock of Governance — Understanding Emerging ESG, Regulatory, and Market Trends

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May 26, 2021
Featured Insight

There Must be Something in the Water. Let’s Talk Hydrogen.

Please join us for an engaging panel discussion with experts and thought leaders from the political, academia, legal and business sectors to discuss the national hydrogen strategy.

February 9, 2021 - 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm EST
Featured Insight

Thinking of Forming an ESG Fund? Five Pointers for Fund Managers

This article aims to highlight five key pointers for fund managers to think about when launching an ESG fund

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Mar 10, 2021
Featured Insight

Will BC’s UNDRIP action plan create compliance challenges under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Bribery Act or the Criminal Code of Canada?

Will BC’s UNDRIP action plan create compliance challenges under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Bribery Act Criminal Code of Canada?

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Jun 15, 2021