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UN Global Compact Communication on Progress

Our commitments


I am delighted to share with you our third communication on progress report, which describes some of the ways in which we have continued to pursue our commitment to the UN Global Compact ("UNGC") and to the Sustainable Development Goals ("SDGs") as part of our wider commitment to being a responsible business. Over the last three years, I have been proud to see the firm's commitment grow and I'm pleased that our responses to the challenges identified have developed positively.

As one of the world’s leading law firms, we wholeheartedly believe in our responsibility to contribute to a sustainable future. By leveraging the skills, enthusiasm and insights of our people around the world, we continue to aim to make a sustained positive impact on many of today's social and environmental challenges.

Our approach to responsible business underpins our Beyond 2020 vision and strategy, directly supporting key work streams and objectives through four overarching pillars: People; Clients; Social Impact; and Sustainability. We continue to seek to foster a culture of responsible business which we know is a key motivation for so many of our people. Through that we continue to work at embedding these pillars in our day to day work and activities to support positive change in sustainable business practices.

There are three projects I am particularly pleased to report on from the last year. First, we continue to celebrate talent and merit rather than background and I was delighted our hard work in this area has been recognised. In 2019 we were ranked 19th in the UK Social Mobility Employer Index. However, there is still more work to do here, especially in our offices outside of the UK.

Second, we launched a major new focus behind our global commitment to health and wellbeing underlining our desire to help our people prioritise their health and wellbeing as well as reinforcing a supportive, respectful and inclusive culture. We are taking positive steps to raise awareness, promote greater health and wellbeing, including providing training and support. This involves recognising and seeking to address more openly some of the real challenges in managing the pressures and demands our work often involves.

Lastly I am particularly proud of the partnership we have developed with the National Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal ("MSK") Health and Work. The Director of the Centre, Dr Karen Walker-Bone, came to observe our people at work, reviewing the impact of prolonged periods of time spent working at desks. We are now working with her to engage our people globally, developing a campaign which focuses on physical mobility and the potential impact of our working environment on MSK health. We are proud of the work we have done for many years now on lending focus on mental health at work. Physical health is obviously also vital and interconnects with mental health, and we will continue to focus on both.

I hope you enjoy reading the case studies and updates which follow.


James Palmer's signature

James Palmer
Chair and Senior Partner
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

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