Shoosmiths is Making Work Work for People and the Planet
As one of Business in the Community’s (BITC) 40th anniversary Making Work Work partners, law firm Shoosmiths demonstrates how it is taking action to ensure it is a responsible business, working it Fairer, Greener, and Together with others for the benefit of people and the planet.
Shoosmiths is a law firm with 13 locations across the United Kingdom and one in Brussels. It has 230 partners and over 1400 lawyers and business support employees. Its offices are based in England – Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Nottingham, Sheffield, Solent and Thames Valley; Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow; Northern Ireland – Belfast; and Belgium – Brussels.
Shoosmiths has been a corporate partner of BITC since 2000, supporting a number of its campaigns, programmes, and providing leadership on four BITC Leadership Boards. Shoosmiths’ chairperson is a member of BITC’s Climate Action Leadership Team.
Fairer, Greener, Together
The examples below illustrate how Shoosmiths’ ESG (environmental, social, governance) programme is helping to deliver change by being Fairer, Greener and Together. Additional information can be found on Shoosmiths’ websiteon its corporate responsibility and diversity and inclusion pages and in their annual impact report.
Shoosmiths’ ambition is to build a diverse and ambitious workforce that reflects all backgrounds and talents. As well as a workplace that is supportive and inclusive, recognises and nurtures talent, and has a strong sense of community between colleagues. It recognises the importance for data-driven interventions to support equitable outcomes. These include:
- developing the firm’s talent through its High Performing Women Programme and coaching initiatives for ethnically diverse talent at trainee level
- launching the Shoosmiths Action Plan for Social Mobility as part of its commitment to the Social Mobility Pledge. The plan proposes 14 recommendations, based on the Pledge team’s research findings, to identify opportunities where Shoosmiths can uniquely promote social mobility in the firm and in the UK
- introducing a reciprocal mentoring programme, and a Shadow Board to encourage diverse thinking, innovation and open conversations between colleagues at all levels
- senior leaders and colleagues hosting open and honest conversations on mental health to break down taboos. This is supported by a Wellbeing Hub on the staff intranet and underpinned by policy development, such as fertility and pregnancy loss policies
- supporting a culture of inclusion through its employee-led networks: Balance, Proud, Embrace and Mental Health and Wellbeing Champions. These networks are an opportunity for colleagues to connect, further their professional development, progress diversity and inclusion ambitions, and create community
- not only fulfilling the mandatory gender pay gap requirements but voluntarily sharing its ethnicity pay gap data (since 2018) and including LGBT+ and socioeconomic background pay gap data for the first time in 2022
- being signatories of BITC’s Race at Work Charter, The Mindful Business Charter and members of The Business Disability Forum.
Shoosmiths is committed to a net-zero future. It is a signatory to a number of campaigns including the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign and has provided support for BITC’s Challenge 2030 campaign including financial support towards The Right Climate For Business: leading a just transition research published in January 2022.
The law firm’s net zero aspirations are ambitious. It aims for its operations (Scopes 1, 2) to reach net zero by 2025 and has near-term science-based emissions reduction targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). These are a commitment to reductions across its entire value chain to lower absolute scope 1, 2 and 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions 50% by the 2030 fiscal year (FY) from an FY2020 base and to increase annual sourcing of renewable electricity from 74% in FY2020 to 100% by FY2025. A full value chain net-zero target will shortly be submitted to the SBTi for validation.
An ambitious sustainable travel policy illustrates the firm’s approach. The 2022/2023 business travel budget was reduced by 50% compared to the 2019/2020 (pre-COVID-19) budget. Any business flight booked incurs an internal carbon levy of £200, rising to £300 for flights of four hours or more. Read further details about Shoosmiths’ sustainable travel policy.
Shoosmiths has launched its first formal employee bonus scheme which this year includes a 50% reduced travel spend metric versus 2019/2020 budget.
Shoosmiths works hard to be a good corporate citizen and to enable its team to work together with others in the community. For example, the firm encourages teams to share their skills and time in ways that assist local communities. This can take the form of the provision of legal advice on a pro bono basis and/or volunteering.
The firm also supports appointment-based pro bono clinics for individuals. These are operated with local charities, such as Citizens Advice, and it often partners with University Law Schools enabling students to be given the opportunity to build both their legal and client relationship skills.
Everyone in Shoosmiths is able to volunteer a day a year in the community. Colleagues have the opportunity to support causes that are aligned with Shoosmiths’ business ESG priorities, however, there is also flexibility to enable teams or individuals to support causes that matter to them personally.
Shoosmiths and Business in the Community tackle homelessness
Shoosmiths selects charity partners in each of its offices and during 2021/2022 took the decision in Manchester to fundraise and provide firm donations in support of a BITC homelessness research project.
With funds from Shoosmiths, BITC commissioned a local employment research project to complement existing support provided to individuals. The research aimed to identify employers who are recruiting, mainly in entry level jobs.
The research on local employers has allowed BITC to build strong relationships with five new employers who have been able to offer jobs to people with experience of homelessness. All employers identified in this research were invited to the re-launch of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership in September 2022. Funds are used help people overcome common barriers to secure jobs. It has enabled people to access education and apprenticeships by having the right IT equipment in place, supported with travel fares for first month’s employment, paid for PPE (personal protective equipment) to secure jobs in construction and paid for identification documents to allow access to jobs at an airport.
Shoosmiths Foundation beneficiaries
The Shoosmiths Foundation, launched in June 2021, is a grant-making body working to address societal issues, empower sustainable change and improve the lives of the people and the environment in the UK. The three areas of focus are promoting social mobility, advancing a net-zero future and access to legal justice.
The inaugural funding round focused on the social mobility theme with grants awarded to End Youth Homelessness (EYH), a national movement to end youth homelessness in the UK, and Street League, a charity using sport and education to help young people into work. Funding to EYH will provide around 2,174 hours of employability support from Employability Coaches and help 42 young people back into employment, education or training.
Funding to Street League will support 53 unemployed young people, living in some of the most deprived communities across Leeds and Sheffield, to gain qualifications they need to secure meaningful job opportunities.
Impacts and outcomes
- Shoosmiths ranked 42nd in the ‘Top 75’ employers in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2021.
- Winner of the 2022 People in Law Awards for Best Social Mobility Initiative.
- Scope 1, scope 2 (location-based) emissions were down 25% in 2021/2022 versus 2019/2020.
- Scope 1, scope 2 (market-based) emissions were down 62% in 2021/2022 versus 2019/2020.
- The 2022/2023 business travel budget has been reduced by 50% compared to the 2019/2020 (pre-COVID-19) budget.
- 1,571 hours legal advice provided pro bono in 2021/2022.
- 1,304 hours of employer supported volunteering in 2021/2022.
- £7,772 plus gift aid funding provided for a Homeless research project. In April to June 2022, BITC have supported 39 people, with 14 people being invited to interview, 13 people gaining employment, five people sustaining employment for more than three months, 10 people accessing training and two people achieving accredited qualifications. Shoosmiths investment has significantly contributed to these outcomes.
- As of June 2022, End Youth Homelessness has surpassed its target of supporting 42 young people. The funding has enabled 46 young people to progress with employment, education or training. Young people were surveyed to see how they felt after engaging with the programme, 88% felt more confident, 87% reported that they had developed employability skills, 88% felt more independent and 86% felt more positive about their future.
- Thanks to Shoosmiths Foundation funding as of 1 August 2022 Street League is ahead of its targets. In Leeds, based on 99 young people starting a programme since November 2021, 12 young people have achieved qualifications (maths, English, progressions award) and 25 young people have moved into an outcome, such as employment, training or education. The majority of these have been into employment. In Sheffield, 55 young people have started the programme since November 2021, with 13 young people achieving qualifications and 17 moving into an outcome. Again the majority of these have been into employment. A total therefore of 154 starts, 25 qualifications, 25 outcomes (32 employment, eight training, two education).
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