By offering homeless people and ex-offenders work placements and job coaching, Freshfields helps them enter employment while saving money and increasing engagement amongst its staff.
- Improvement of participants’ job prospects and employability, with 43% entering employment within a year of their placement and 83% sustaining employment for at least six months.
- Successfully working with ex-offenders through the Ready for Work programme has enabled Freshfields to open up all vacancies to this group. Employment can reduce the likelihood of re-offending by up to 50%.
- Was the first law firm to sign up to Business in the Community's Ban the Box campaign, removing the tick box asking about convictions from job application forms.
- Recruiting participants has reduced staff turnover and related costs, saving around £115,000. Staff also report a 90% increased commitment to the firm and 65% of trainees mention corporate responsibility as something that impressed them about the firm.
- Volunteering for Ready for Work develops skills with the added benefit of savings of approximately £1,000 per person in training costs.
- Freshfields has collaborated with clients on the scheme, helping strengthen relationships and demonstrate shared values.
“ We’ve supported BITC’s Ready for Work programme since 2001.The programme has never been more relevant. Homelessness has increased by 16% in two years and job prospects for those furthest from the labour market get tougher all the time. People are keen to work and contribute fully to society. We’ve had some great success stories, and we need more. Participants gain valuable skills, and the more examples that employers, authorities and homeless people see of people finding their way back, the easier it will be to convince people that homeless doesn't mean hopeless. ”
Freshfields has run Ready for Work since 2001 in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC), offering work experience, job coaching and informal support schemes. Staff provide work placements, as a buddy or supervisor, and offer support after the placement as job coaches. The firm also provides printing, lends rooms and gives strategic advice at board and operational level.
Freshfields has increased the impact of the programme by focusing particularly on supporting ex-offenders. This group needs extra support because over three-quarters of employers use a conviction to discount a candidate. In 2013, 57% of participants referred to the scheme with convictions completed placements at Freshfields.
Seeing the success of working with ex-offenders through the scheme has enabled Freshfields to address the wider issue of opening up all vacancies to people with convictions. Within two years of accepting Ready for Work participants with convictions into placements, it championed a London-wide policy change.
In January 2014, Freshfields became the first law firm to sign up to BITC’s Ban the Box campaign, removing the tick box that asks about convictions on application forms.
Hiring participants from the programme has reduced staff turnover and recruitment costs and increased staff engagement. Eighty-four per cent of staff say the firm’s commitment to corporate responsibility has increased their pride in the firm and their job satisfaction.
"Freshfields is breaking the mould within the private sector and challenging the norm. The juxtaposition of a law firm recruiting and retaining ex-offenders is quite inspirational."
Matt Hammerstein, Managing Director, Barclays.