Slaughter and May announces Responsible Business Progress in 2021 Report

The firm’s second Responsible Business Report measures progress made since the last report and looks ahead to its ambitions to go beyond business as usual to deliver positive benefits for people and planet.

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Slaughter and May today releases its responsible business report, charting the firm’s progress as a signatory of the UN Global Compact. The report also marks the conclusion of Slaughter and May’s Responsible Business Two Year Plan, which came to an end in December 2020. The firm made significant progress across a number of responsible business areas including:

  • being the first law firm to have science-based carbon reduction targets approved, which will see the firm make a 50% reduction in its carbon emissions by 2030.
  • launching two significant social mobility initiatives that have created a pipeline of talent from which the firm is already hiring future trainees, the Law Springboard and Lead into Law.
  • doubling the amount of pro bono legal advice provided in 2020 compared to 2018, and joining forces with clients to maximise pro bono potential.

Highlights from the past year include two ambitious diversity and inclusion targets set by the firm earlier this year. The targets state that the 10 years to the end of 2027, a minimum of 40% of the firm’s equity partner promotions globally will be women (tracked in two five year cohorts from 2018 until 2027) and that at least 15% of those promoted to partnership between May 2020 and April 2025 will be from ethnic minority backgrounds. The targets have been achieved or exceeded thus far.

Another key focus of the past 12 months has been the launch of new initiatives to support mental health and wellbeing. Slaughter and May was recognised for the second year running by the City Mental Health Alliance, who awarded the firm the ‘Excelling’ mark in its Thriving at Work Assessment. New support includes internal network Staying Connected, more than 500 one-to-one learning and development coaching sessions and a new internal initiative, Listeners, which complements the provision we already have in place through our Mental Health First Aiders.

The firm is also a founding member of two new sustainability and climate change initiatives: the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance (NZLA), a recently launched coalition of law firms committed to helping the world achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; and a new Centre for Climate Change Innovation, an initiative of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Royal Institution.

This is in addition to pro bono efforts in the area, including work with Sustainability First in the form of a report into the legal and regulatory frameworks of the utilities and sustainability and The Chancery Lane Project, which has led to the drafting of new climate focused contractual clauses in support of the fight against climate change.

Partner and Head of Sustainability Jeff Twentyman said, “We are still living through the COVID-19 pandemic; the past year has continued to be turbulent and has brought inequalities across society into even sharper focus. I believe that it’s vital for business to take this opportunity to make changes to their working practices and commitments to rebuild a more responsible and sustainable society. When advising clients, rather than treating ESG as a separate practice area, we use it as a lens through which we look at all their transactions. Our own responsible business commitments remain a key focus and we continue to be committed to improving our performance against the UN Guiding Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Uzma Hamid-Dizier, Head of Responsible Business and Inclusion said, “This year we have continued to engage our people, clients and other stakeholders to navigate continued uncertainty and disruption. We have witnessed seismic changes, from turbulent shifts in societal needs, expectations and values as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the Black Lives Matter movement and the exposure of deep socio-economic inequalities in our society, as well as growing institutional responses to climate change. Against this backdrop, our focus has been sharpened on the emerging role for our firm, and the wider business sector, to create positive impact through how we do business.”

Jeff Twentyman Senior Consultant