In our Annual Report, we reported on our achievements in 2014. We advised on the largest and most complex assignments and established new practice groups. We continue our focus on quality while always striving to surpass our clients’ expectations. There were many occasions where the strength of our business model was evident this past year – where our expertise was woven together to provide innovative advice and sustainable solutions, adding value to our clients’ businesses.
For us, being a leader means taking responsibility and making use of the opportunity to influence and promote issues that are not only important to our clients, our own activities and our employees, but also to society at large. We therefore make an active effort to develop and integrate sustainability in all our business law advice.
The aim is to conduct business in a way that satisfies the needs of the day, without jeopardising the possibility for future generations to meet their needs. We help our clients identify and manage risks and business opportunities connected to human rights, labour conditions, the environment and anti-corruption.
Being a leader means that we have a responsibility and an opportunity to influence and promote issues that are not only important to our clients and ourselves, but also to society at large.
A growing number of business leaders are seeking expertise in sustainability issues, which stems from their increased understanding that sustainability is not about soft values. Rather, it is about earning money and managing risk – and thus about the company’s long-term profitability and survival. Most companies and organisations want and must take a position on sustainability. Many people consider the climate and resource use, but sustainability is so much more than that. It includes labour conditions and business ethics.
Many of the firm’s business areas have addressed sustainability issues for some time, before the concept of “sustainability” became as widely known as it is now. Issues pertaining to sustainability are gaining importance in several areas. In employment law, it often concerns occupational health and safety or suppliers’ labour conditions. Data protection issues involve human rights, such as freedom of speech and privacy.
Many companies take a proactive stance against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery, but it is sometimes necessary to investigate incidents that have already happened in order to expose bribes, money laundering or trade sanction violations. Sustainability issues are even gaining importance in connection with corporate acquisitions.
As a firm, our best opportunity to have a positive influence on people and the environment is through the advice we provide, which also helps our clients to create permanent value by thinking and acting more long term. In the real estate sector, for example, sustainability may involve anything from “green” leases to procurements where diversity aspects are considered. The environment, safety and anti-corruption are important areas in this sector. Sustainability requirements are increasingly common in procurements, land allocation and transfer agreements. The law is therefore an important tool for handling sustainability issues in the real estate sector.
Mannheimer Swartling’s internal sustainability effort is a pre-condition for credible advice to our clients and reflects the values held and promoted by our firm for a long time. Our strategic pro bono work not only benefits our society at large, but it also gives rise to a deep and active commitment among our employees that helps us develop our own business as well as our knowledge and experience of important societal issues. Sustainable actions are essentially about managing risks and opportunities in one’s own industry, markets and business operations in order to secure long-term profitability and the company’s survival, but they are also about being accountable and acting in accordance with one’s business values. This creates value and is a way of demonstrating corporate values in actions.
In our last sustainability report, we included a number of activities that we had identified as relevant for the period 2013–2014 and for our strategic objectives. We note with great satisfaction that all of these activities were fully implemented during the period and have generated results and insights that help us identify activities that should either allow us to meet our objectives (where possible) in the period 2015–2016 or take us one or two steps closer to our strategic objectives. The long-term and short-term challenges we meet in our sustainability work are stated in this year’s sustainability report. One of the foremost challenges remains: to increase the number of female partners and to continuously recruit the best talent.
Stockholm, May 2015
Head of Sustainability