Statement from Deborah Finkler, Managing Partner
At Slaughter and May, we believe that being a successful business requires taking a long term, sustainable approach. We have a reputation for providing exceptional legal advice. The outstanding service which our clients value goes hand in hand with the firm’s commitment to create a positive impact on the world in which we operate.
The foundations of our excellent client delivery are our people and our culture. Slaughter and May has a strong set of values. This year we codified these for the first time into a framework of four principles. These set out our commitment, not just to our clients and the firm, but also to our colleagues and the society in which we operate, that we will demonstrate:
- the highest of standards;
- independence of thought;
- collective endeavour; and
- respect for all.
These values will continue to guide decision making across the firm.
It is in this context that we are proud to present the progress we have made against our Responsible Business strategy in 2023. Our objectives in this space are fundamental drivers of our business planning, ensuring the firm benefits from a rich and diverse set of perspectives, and can contribute to the health of the planet and of society. In a world of increased uncertainty and complexity, businesses have a clear role in facilitating the systemic change that our stakeholders want to see. Slaughter and May is proud to play its part.
Thank you for reading this report.
Foreword from Uzma Hamid-Dizier, Director of Responsible Business
Welcome to our fourth report which provides a high-level snapshot of key statistics that show progress towards our responsible business commitments and spotlights on activity that has taken place over the past year. It comes against the backdrop of a rapidly shifting global landscape, which has become a fixed feature of the world that we operate in. This complex and evolving landscape needs to be carefully navigated to maintain our position as a successful, modern and responsible business. It poses questions about continuity and transformation and we, like all businesses, are alive to this.
A key highlight for me this year was becoming the first major law firm to set social mobility targets in the UK to increase the number of individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds joining and staying at our firm. This work is important as it acknowledges that amongst the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s member countries the UK ranks in the lowest decile for upward social mobility. Furthermore, research shows that a lower socio-economic background is the biggest barrier for individuals to access and succeed within the legal sector. As a business, our people are our biggest asset and having access to the best available talent, from a diverse range of backgrounds, is critical to the firm’s sustained success.
These targets build on the work we have been doing over the last decade to upskill, inspire and equip young people from these backgrounds to pursue a career in law and to think of us as their first employer. We have an action plan in place to meet these targets by 2033 and I look forward to including updates on how we progress in our annual reports.
There is a growing recognition that all businesses, including ours, need to reassess business as usual and adapt to meet and exceed the expectations of our stakeholders to manage our impacts with positive intent and care. Mainstreaming this thinking into strategy and operations, governance, decision-making processes, culture and measures of success requires further work of all of us and will be a continuing feature for the year to come.
I hope you find our report informative and interesting.
- Attracting, recruiting, retaining and progressing talent from diverse backgrounds in line with our diversity targets
- Creating an environment where everyone can feel valued, included and able to be themselves
- Building a workplace that supports our people to thrive and develop in their careers
- Driving personal accountability by equipping our people with the skills to lead and work together inclusively
- Widening access to the legal profession and the firm
Our progress against our targets
- 79% of people across the firm took part in our diversity and inclusion programme, Everyday Inclusion, which coaches people to speak up about non-inclusive behaviours
- We committed to provide 10 bursaries each year to high-potential undergraduates from less advantaged backgrounds. To date, our Slaughter and May Scholarship Scheme has provided 30 high-potential undergraduates with bursaries and leadership development opportunities
- We increased our total number of employee networks, which are run by our people to strengthen the spirit of inclusion at the firm, to 10
- We were ranked 19th in the 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index which is an annual benchmarking and assessment tool for employers that are improving socio-economic diversity
- We continue to publicly report on our gender and ethnicity pay gap
- We were awarded the City Mental Health Alliance Thriving at Work Sustained and Integrated Accreditation, which measures an organisation’s progress to build mentally healthy workplaces
- Reducing our carbon emissions in line with the Science Based Targets initiative’s Net-Zero Corporate Standard
- Driving employee behaviour change to support our net zero target
- Working with our suppliers to reduce environmental impact in line with our net zero ambitions
- Procuring our energy from renewable sources and striving for continuous improvements and efficiencies in our energy use
- Ensuring we reduce, reuse and recycle to eliminate waste
- Fulfilling our commitments as a founding member of the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance
Our progress against our targets
- We disclosed our environmental impacts and achieved a B rating from the Carbon Disclosure Project
- 100% of the electricity in our London office was procured on a green tariff
- We delivered 50 training sessions relating to climate change and ESG to lawyers internally
- We delivered 45 training sessions relating to climate change and ESG to clients
peace and prosperity
- Advising non-profits and vulnerable individuals on a pro bono basis and promoting access to justice and the rule of law
- Building capacity within the third sector through legal education and training
- Working with non-profit, expert partners to provide people with employability skills that support them into work, self-employment, training or higher education
- Providing pro bono support and community investment to reduce inequalities in wider society
- Mobilising our resources to support NGOs responding to humanitarian crises
- Helping our employees to support the causes they care about
- Our collaboration with 8 other law firms on the Domestic Abuse Response Alliance won Pro Bono Initiative of the Year at the Lawyer Awards 2023
- Over 200 primary school students were supported to improve their literacy levels through our funding and volunteer support
- Our schools outreach work enabled 92 individuals to improve their skills and 317 individuals to increase their educational attainment and outcomes