As a responsible business we seek to achieve a positive social and environmental impact.
We strive to ensure our own business can meet today’s significant challenges, including reducing inequality and helping to tackle climate change, by investing for the future, supporting our people and building a sustainable business.
Developing a coherent approach to ESG and ensuring our business operations have a positive social and environmental impact is key. We will deliver on this by embracing more robust regulatory requirements, promoting a fairer society, and playing an active role in tackling environmental concerns.
In our efforts to be a more responsible business, we regularly review our strategy, seek to adhere to the relevant reporting requirements and assess where we can improve in relation to each pillar of ESG considerations.
Understanding and measuring our sustainability, including examining our environmental impact is key in our efforts to play our part in reducing carbon emissions as well as water use, pollution and waste.
Our building uses a ground source system for heating and cooling saving over 21 tonnes of CO2 pollution per year and is 32% less than the Building Regulations Part L 2010 target emission.
Our office has a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method / rating system and is delivered by a licensed organisation.
100% of waste from the office has been diverted from landfill and our office uses rainwater harvesting technology for reuse in the building and water efficient plumbing.
We seek to take responsibility for addressing social issues such as imbalances in gender, ethnicity and diversity and inclusion within our firm. As an organisation, we strive to always do more to achieve better social standards and effect real social change.
We produce an annual diversity and inclusion report which includes our gender pay gap figures. To read the latest report click here.
Promoting social mobility in partnership with upReach.
We partner with social mobility charity upReach to provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with support in starting a career in the legal sector. This includes our open day where we provide students with an insight into the work that we do such as talks from members of the firm, legal training exercises and presentations.
Our lawyers also provide regular mentoring, which includes providing first-hand insight into how a law firm operates, interview practice via video calls, reviewing CVs and assisting with training contract applications.
We are supporting the CityCentury solicitor apprentice initiative to increase the number of solicitor apprentices entering the legal industry. We aim to employ our first cohort next year as we take collective responsibility to provide better access to the legal sector.
Our Reverse Mentoring Programme is one of a series of actions we have taken across our firm to increase awareness of the experiences of our lawyers and aspiring lawyers from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Our Partnership Board members have been mentored by volunteers from ethnic minority backgrounds across our firm to learn from one another’s experiences and consider the ways in which they can better support minority lawyers and staff both in our firm and in the wider profession.
Gender and ethnicity pay gaps
We report on a voluntary basis to our staff on our gender pay gap and our ethnicity pay gap to track our progress over time and have a measurable system and ensure the diversity of thought at all levels at the firm. We will also be expanding the reach of our diversity and inclusion training over the coming year.
Other firm activities
We have a regular calendar of diversity and inclusion events, workshops and talks to increase awareness and promote a culture of equality and understanding throughout the firm. Equally, our Charity Committee hosts fundraising events throughout the year with employees choosing one charity per year to support. This year’s charity is Refuge which supports victims of domestic abuse.
As a law firm, it is vital that we accountable for our actions. We maintain the highest standards in how the firm is governed through our firm’s standards and policies.
We have a number of policies and procedures in place governing working practices including anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, anti-slavery, conflict of interest and relations with third parties.
Internally, our health and safety and diversity and inclusion policies including shared parental leave are bolstered by regular training to ensure we provide a welcoming workplace, and our people can feel safe and comfortable when they come to work.
The rigorous standards we set for ourselves also apply to third-party organisations and suppliers that we use. Our third-party supplier policy ensures that all suppliers to Fox Williams meet the criteria for appropriate levels of quality, reputation, financial stability and compliance with Fox Williams core policies. Any new supplier is assessed based on a supplier framework prior to being onboarded.
We carried out the independent fact-finding investigation for the CBI regarding serious allegations of sexual harassment involving its Director General and a further investigation arising from allegations of rape and sexual assault reported by the Guardian newspaper. This involved making a number of recommendations to the organisation in relation to its governance, with a view to preventing further instances of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour, in turn promoting its diversity and inclusion agenda. These were published by the CBI on its website.
We acted for a European insurer on its UK ESG obligations, including on its risk management framework, product governance, sustainability disclosure requirements and diversity and inclusion. In particular, we considered the Bank of England Supervisory Statement on enhancing banks’ and insurers’ approaches to managing the financial risks from climate change (SS3/19) and looked at the Bank of England Climate Biennial Exploratory Scenario (CBES 2021) which explores the resilience of the UK financial system to the transition and physical risks associated with different climate pathways.
We have advised on the applicability of the new FCA ESG Sourcebook, which covers sustainability disclosures required by asset managers, life insurers and FCA-regulated pensions providers. We are also monitoring the FCA consultation on sustainability disclosure requirements and investment labels (CP22/20) – a package of measures aimed at clamping down on greenwashing, including sustainable investment labels, disclosure requirements and restrictions on the use of sustainability-related terms in product naming and marketing.
Two North American alternative investment fund managers have been advised on the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation which imposes mandatory ESG disclosure obligations for asset managers and other financial markets.
We acted on behalf of a hotel owner, in connection with a deed of variation to make its lease a “Green Lease”. The landlord of the premises is the Grosvenor Estate, which is looking to grant new leases on the basis of “Green Leases” and vary existing leases where they can. The variation completed in February 2023 and demonstrates the emerging trend in the commercial property market for both landlords and tenants to collaborate in achieving more environmentally friendly leases and ESG objectives.
In reviewing a distributorship agreement for an engineering client we took account of the ESG commitments of the client to ensure that these we also fulfilled by the distributor.
We acted for a global ratings agency for the voluntary carbon market in taking a lease of their new office space in Clerkenwell. Their carbon credit ratings allow participants to price and manage environmental risk by calculating the probability that carbon credits purchased to fund environmentally-friendly projects actually achieve anticipated results.
We have prepared a sustainability policy for a UK-based supplier of silk that supplies internationally, addressing issues involving contract, tort and employment law.
A quality assurance auditing agreement was prepared for one of our fashion clients to address the contractual relationship between it and an ESG auditor of some of the overseas manufacturers used by our client.
We advised a London-based global leader in carbon capture technology to acquire their global office headquarters in Southwark. The firm helps businesses and industries in the steel, cement, refinery, and energy sectors reach net zero carbon by developing and providing carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies.
We work with a family office owner of prime London real estate and have advised on the green provisions in their leases granted to commercial occupiers.