The legal sector is being challenged by the unprecedented growth of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), and Sustainability initiatives. More than ever before, clients demand transparency from the organisations they work with regarding their impact on society, people, and the environment, and expect robust governance of operational practices to ensure sustainability.
DWF’s former and recent position as the only Main Market listed legal business, made ESG fundamental to developing and realising commercial advantages as a progressive, innovative global business, and their commitment to responsible business has continued following their recent acquisition by Inflexion.
Case of need
DWF identified high performance around ESG and Sustainability as critical in achieving the future they envision for their company, and that knowledge and understanding of sustainability was imperative for their leadership, and more broadly for their entire workforce. To support these ambitions, DWF partnered with Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) in 2022/2023 to create a series of bespoke masterclasses. These sessions were targeted towards educating employees in leadership and client-facing roles on key options and frameworks, to tackle issues currently at the heart of ESG, such as deploying strategies to balance sustainability and productivity whilst transitioning to net-zero.
This education series aligned with the expectations subsequently set out in guidance by the Law Society on climate risk in May 2023. This guidance stated that solicitors should be informed on climate risk and understand its impact on their organisations, the impact that their organisation has on planet, as well as ensuring that it is taken into account when providing legal advice. This programme would enable DWF employees to build their knowledge in this area and help them to advise their clients competently, from an informed perspective and to be compliant.
AMBS was chosen to develop a programme to support DWF’s ESG ambitions based on their reputation for delivering high-quality teaching drawing on global research in this area, and a proven record of successful collaboration over an already long-standing relationship with DWF. The two organisations worked closely to ensure the delivered material aligned with the vision DWF wanted to achieve, continuing the University’s history of designing customised programmes which specifically address its client’s needs, and showcasing DWF’s continued commitment to upskilling their employees.
Kirsty Rogers, Group Head of ESG at DWF said: “It was great to work with a reputable business school to deliver an education plan for our people so that they can engage appropriately with the agenda and with their clients in relation to it.”
“Working with Alliance Manchester Business School really highlighted the value of our partnership with them. They understood our requirements and were able to deliver us a bespoke programme which married up with our vision at DWF.”
“The process to create the programme was also very straightforward and having access to their experts to relay this information gave us a unique perspective which could not have happened without working with them. Their access to research and the latest global trends also ensured an up to date and future focussed programme”
The programme took the form of three ESG masterclasses, delivered online by leading academics in each area, and covered ‘The Route to Net-Zero’, ‘The Impact of ESG on Corporate Value’, and ‘The Future of ESG’. These sessions were developed to ensure attendees were familiar with frameworks and methods needed to critically evaluate current management practices in relation to ESG, allowing the formulation of roadmaps towards DWF’s specific goals and measurement of their success, as well as gaining an appreciation for why transformational change can be in businesses best interests when trying to remain competitive within rapidly evolving environments.
The programme aligned with the commitments DWF made in 2023 to the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance (NZLA) and the Legal Charter 1.5, to collectively take action on the climate crisis within the legal sector, and supported their commitment to broader training on environmental impacts, including the work they do with the Carbon Literacy Project. It enabled DWF to upskill employees to further support the commercial opportunities attached to their ESG and Sustainable Business advisory practice. It also encouraged them to think about the next stages of their training programme for the wider business, and how they can adapt their learning to develop their own Carbon Literacy Fundamental programme.