Edelman UK, the world’s leading communications firm, has appointed Chuka Umunna as Executive Director and Head of its Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) consultancy offer.

Part of Edelman’s specialist capital markets and financial services team, Smithfield, Chuka will lead a team advising business leaders on ESG audit, embedding ESG factors into decision making, strategy and culture and managing ESG issues relating to corporate transactions.

Edelman Smithfield frequently advises on large cross-border transactions and fundraisings as well as domestic deals. It acts for investment managers with more than $4 trillion of assets under management as well as some of the world’s largest private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds. The team is enjoying its fifth consecutive year of record revenue. 

The company’s third annual Investor Trust report revealed that investors believe companies must address the needs of a wide range of stakeholders, not just shareholders, and must implement effective ESG practices to win trust across all these audiences. This movement will only accelerate in the wake of Covid-19 and the tragic murder of George Floyd.

Umunna, a solicitor, is a former corporate employment lawyer who - before entering politics - worked for several years at a City law firm advising companies on contentious, transactional (M&A) and advisory matters including employment litigation, industrial relations, remuneration and incentives, and workplace health and safety.

From 2010-2019 he served in Parliament including as Shadow Business Secretary for several years and in other senior posts leading on economic, business, trade and foreign policy issues on the Opposition benches.  During this time he co-founded Small Business Saturday in the UK, led the successful campaign against the hostile takeover of AstraZeneca by Pfizer and became a leading advocate of the stakeholder capitalism agenda, campaigning for more diversity in the boardroom.

Hugh Taggart, General Manager, said: “If we have learnt anything about business during the pandemic, it’s that they will undoubtedly be held to higher ethical standards. Anyone – including companies in the private sector - with the resources to help solve the problems society faces, will be expected to make a contribution.

“In a time of such profound change, we couldn’t have found a better person than Chuka to spearhead our ESG offer and advise our clients. Chuka is a deep and analytical thinker, a passionate campaigner for a fairer society and joins Edelman at a time when Smithfield continues its rapid ascension as a leading adviser to many of the top global financial institutions.”

Chuka Umunna, said: “I’m honoured to be joining Edelman to lead its ESG consultancy offer. Smithfield has a strong history of executing extensive consultancy work for companies and asset managers in the UK and internationally on the management of ESG factors. When combined with the full breadth of the firm’s capabilities in corporate reputation, data and insights, creative, and brand strategy, it truly differentiates Edelman from its competitors in this space.”