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.
Making a profit is core to all businesses, 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 how we aspire to run our business. Focusing on more than just profits has meant we can integrate some important beliefs into our business operations.
We believe that it’s important to ensure we have a positive impact on our People, as they’re our greatest asset. 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. It means when our people are at work they’re fully motivated.
We believe that we have a responsibility to play a positive role in the Communities we engage with, and to make meaningful social contributions. Some of this comes from the clients we work with: Over 50% of our clients are charities and social enterprises making a significant impact on peoples’ lives, and a large proportion of our work in some way involves supporting the public sector. 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 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. We also play our part by offering thousands of hours of pro-bono work. In addition, our people hold over one hundred charity trusteeships.
We also enjoy working with other commercial organisations to create a positive impact. 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. The B Corp community reminds us that our everyday decisions and suppliers can create impact – 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 believe that it’s critical to minimise our impact on the Planet. So we’ve committed to taking action on the climate emergency and reaching net carbon zero by the end of 2019. Learn more our about climate emergency recognition here. 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. We have created a robust environmental strategy to ensure we’re consistently reducing or impact. Take a look at our Quality, Environmental and Information Security Policy to learn more.
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.