We believe that the “classic” economic model – with businesses focusing solely on maximising profit while doing some good deeds on the side – isn’t sustainable. Corporate Social Responsibility is a start, but it’s only a start.
Wanting to make a profit is core to all business but doing so while having a social purpose means an organisation can make wiser business decisions, assess the impact of these decisions on others, and protect its interests long-term. This is the impact economy and it’s how we run our business.
We want to have a positive impact on our people. We believe that having a happy and healthy team leads to high-quality work. We recognise that our people have important commitments outside of work. That’s why 25% of Bates Wells work fewer than five days a week, including 41% of our partners. We also encourage our people to enjoy their evenings, so you’ll rarely see the dull-blue glow of computer screens lighting our office after dark. So when our people are at work they’re fully motivated.
Happy motivated people mean we can have a positive impact on our clients and communities. Some of this positive impact comes from the clients we work with: Over 50% of our clients are charities and social enterprises making a significant impact on other people’s lives. As well as advising our clients we also work to benefit the wider sector, for example collaborating with the government to create the Community Interest Company (CIC), a legal structure now used by over 14,000 organisations operating for the public good.
We also play our part by offering thousands of hours of pro-bono work and our people hold over one hundred charity trusteeships. We are a commercial firm, yet we understand the purpose which drives not-for-profits. Annually, 1% of our profits are donated to address social issues in an effort to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to driving social impact.
Profit driven organisations also drive positive change and we enjoy our work with commercial businesses, especially when they share our impact goals. It’s why we helped to launch B Corps in the UK – a movement that looks to use business as a force for good – and it’s also why we became the first UK-based, B Corp-certified law firm. Being purposeful also means looking beyond the work we do for our clients to our everyday decisions and suppliers – from the soap we use to the food we order, to the paper we print on, we look for suppliers that have a social purpose and an environmental agenda.
We’re taking our own small steps to address environmental challenges – we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by more than 33% since 2014, despite our business growing by 60% over the same period. We also now operate as a zero-waste-to-landfill office, with 100% of our waste composted, recycled, or turned into usable electricity and heat. We genuinely believe that growth doesn’t have to come with a high environmental cost and are trying to work as sustainably as we can.
Creating a positive impact is a long-term goal and though we haven’t cracked every detail and there’s always more to do, we’re working on it.
Click here to read our Environmental Policy Statement.