The Bates Wells way

We live by our principles.

At Bates Wells, we’re not the average law firm. We believe that actions speak louder than words. We strive to do the right thing and make a positive impact on our clients, our people and society.

We’re purposeful

We’re incredibly proud of our people and their creativity. At Bates Wells, everyone is encouraged to develop, innovate and participate in activities to promote a truly equal, diverse and inclusive environment. Our DIF (Diversity & Inclusion Forum), led by two partners, brings together the elements which make for a diverse and inclusive culture.

Our DIF acts as an umbrella for our creative groups and networks to flourish. Our groups and networks are led by our ambassadors who play a key role in fostering that enthusiasm and creativity. Our groups and networks are a true cross-section of the firm across all practice areas and business support roles with initiatives dreamt up by members, whoever they may be and no matter how junior, to make the world a better place. The activities of our groups and networks are interwoven into the firm, across our governance, strategy, policies and support tools, to achieve a coordinated approach across our inclusion themes.

Our passionate and active groups and networks are as follows:

  • Bates Wellness, dedicated to ensuring everyone at Bates Wells has a positive experience at work and to feel valued and supported.
  • DIF recruitment and retention group which focuses on recruitment and retention issues across all the DIF areas and beyond, working with HR.
  • Faith at Work, an initiative which enables collaboration with our faith-based clients via Faith at Work lunches. These events give our people the opportunity to hear from colleagues and clients of different faith traditions about their faith - its teachings, festivals, and its impact in their daily lives and sense of identity. We won a Belief at Work Award from ComRes, recognising our commitment to creating a workplace where belief is acknowledged and understood as a significant aspect of our staff and clients’ lives and a culture where people of all faiths and none can flourish.
  • QSP (Queen Street Pride), our network for those within the firm who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ) and their allies and supporters.
  • REACH (Race, Ethnicity & Cultural Heritage), established to develop and enhance a greater sense of understanding among colleagues around race and ethnicity.
  • RISE, a group dedicated to ensuring a welcoming and supportive environment for current and future Black colleagues.
  • Social Mobility Working Group, which works on DIF Social Mobility and Schools Outreach projects.
  • The Gender Equality group promotes women in leadership, family friendly working for Dads and Mums, and transgender inclusion.
  • UnstoppABLE Disability and Carer Network, dedicated to identifying ways in which we can celebrate our uniqueness of our employees and provide the tools for everyone to succeed. The UnstoppABLE network strives to support people with disabilities, caring responsibilities, and neurodiversity.  

We know that a diverse workplace doesn’t just happen, so we have started to implement steps to help bring about that change. For example, where available in recruitment we use contextual recruitment processes and specific diversity-focused agencies to recruit to meet our goals. We’re partnered with Diverse Jobs Matter as part of our commitment to increasing representation from underrepresented groups at the firm.

We’re on a mission

As a values-driven firm serving values-driven clients, we have always worked with them to create positive impact. From winning worker status in the ground-breaking Uber Supreme Court case  for an estimated 5.5 million workers in the gig economy to representing the former trustees of Kids Company in their successful challenge to the Official Receiver’s decision to attempt to disqualify them as directors following the charity’s unfortunate insolvency, Bates Wells has been at the forefront of positive cases to defend or bring positive change in society and defend those bringing about that change.

Such a mission has always been a driving force for the firm. From initiating the Legal Action Group to promote equal access to justice across society in 1971, to gaining charitable status for the LGBTQ+ helpline in 1987, right through to representing Coleman v Attridge Law on a pro-bono basis in 2008, we’re not afraid to challenge the status quo.

Bates Wells is a truly purpose-driven law firm and the first UK law firm to be a B Corp, which means we consider the impact of our decisions on our people, clients, suppliers, community, and the environment. Our commitment to this is woven into our governing document, so that this is a part of the way we operate, not just the icing on the cake.

We’re committed

We are also proud to demonstrate our commitment to making a positive change through our actions. We have a new DIF strategy which sets out our key objectives and actions for the next 18 months.

Some of the amazing achievements of our groups and the commitments we have made include the following:

Co-authoring the Practical Toolkit for Women in Law launched on International Women’s Day 2021 with the Law Society as a guide to help women lawyers through-out the world, with a team from Bates Wells’ gender group assisting with research and writing up the Toolkit.

A public commitment by legal practices to promote the values of diversity and inclusion throughout their business.

An initiative designed to improve outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees in the UK, delivered by BitC in partnership with the government.

The Halo Code explicitly protects employees who come to work with natural hair and protective hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities. We were the first law firm to adopt the code.

Our gender group reviews and contributes to Bates Wells’ gender pay gap reports, in particular formulating the action points designed to close the gap, including family friendly policies, encouraging flexible and adaptable working for all employees and partners, and improving inclusion and unconscious bias training.

  • Living Wage Employer

We’re an accredited Living Wage Employer, supporting London Citizens’ Living Wage Campaign to ensure that all our staff, including contractors such as our cleaners, receive a living wage and other guaranteed minimum working conditions.

  • Transgender policy

A collaboration between our gender group, Queen Street Pride (our network for those within the firm who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex or queer and their allies and supporters) and our HR department produced the firm’s first transgender policy, lanched on Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March 2021.

  • Mental Health First Aiders

Introducing to the firm and training mental health first aiders and year-wide support on well-being and mental health from our Wellness Group, including dog therapy sessions.

  • Pathways to law programme

Our social mobility group has a long-standing relationship with Sutton Trust and their Pathways to Law programme. As part of that each year we host Year 12 students for a week-long work experience programme. In 2021 we hosted this as a wholly virtual scheme for the first time due to lockdown, which had the added benefit of allowing students from across the country to participate (who would not otherwise be matched with a London firm) including as far apart as Sunderland and Plymouth. We also work with Sutton Trust throughout the year on standalone events such as delivering sessions for the 2020 virtual summer conference scheme including drafting and debating skills workshops, a negotiation exercise, and speed networking.

  • Disability and Carer Network

Our disability and carer network, UnstoppABLE, has prepared a list of recommendations for things to read, watch, or do. From this, they send out regular recommendations to increase understanding within our firm about disabilities, caring responsibilities, and neurodiversity. They also hosted an excellent comedy event to launch the network featuring Simon Minty and Rosie Jones, a producer and comedian from the comedy collective Abnormally Funny People.