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corporate social responsibility at birkett long
We recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility for our clients, communities, business partners and each other.
Birkett Long can trace its foundations back some 200 years and, whilst the phrase corporate social responsibility might not have been used then, it can trace its commitment to corporate social responsibility back as far.
As a firm of solicitors and financial advisers serving our local communities we have always played a role in supporting those communities whether it be at a firm or individual level. We recognise that we thrive in a vibrant and growing set of communities and we must play our part in encouraging that growth. We do that in many ways listed on this page but at the root of all of these initiatives is an aim for us to be embedded in our communities, for the long term, looking to support them.
We understand that by providing this support our communities will look to support our business and work with us. That commitment to a common purpose allows our business to grow and to continue to be successful. We therefore never forget that we owe our existence and our continuing growth and success to those partnerships with our communities and we must continue to support those.
Awareness of corporate social responsibility underpins our operations as a business.
The roof of our Colchester office is covered is Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels which produce a large proportion of the electricity we use in the warmer months. This is backed up with renewable energy from the grid supplied by a specialist renewable energy reseller. We opt for the most energy efficient appliances and have ultra-low energy, sensor-controlled LED lighting throughout the offices.
We understand why recycling is so important. It prevents pollution, reduces the need to harvest new raw materials, saves energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saves money and reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. We constantly strive to reduce, reuse, or recycle materials and actively encourage our staff, our suppliers, and our clients to do the same. Where possible we look to purchase recycled goods and have recycling bins throughout the offices.
Birkett Long are members of the Colchester Travel Plan Club. The club exists to promote “active and sustainable travel to work and on business”. As members, we undertake an annual review of our Travel Plan. The Travel Plan looks at how staff use travel to get to and from work and business appointments. Each year we strive to meet targets aimed at meeting and exceeding the Club’s main objectives.
Following on from our Wellbeing Commitment and the recent success of the "Workout Wednesdays" Programme we continue to look for opportunities to promote exercise. Many of us like cycling and we can now, following the successful application for a grant from Cycling UK, offer some cycling initiatives, such as introductory webinars, bike maintenance led by qualified mechanics and a staff bike ride led by a qualified cycle leader. Although the initiative, Big Biking Revival for Business, is to encourage people to cycle to work it is also applicable to all forms of cycling.
Birkett Long recognises the critical importance of reducing its Carbon Footprint and to help drive this the NetZero team has been formed. This action group consists of seven team members who are passionate about driving change for the benefit of the planet and future generations.
Its mission statement is: Actively seeking and supporting ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the firm and its staff.
One of the biggest areas where we can lower our environmental impact is in the amount we print. Printing doesn't just consume paper, it consumes power and other resources such as toner (which in itself consumes further resources for packaging). On top of that there is the wider impact on storage, transportation and handling of all the paper, not to mention the further impact of adding more packages into the postal system, all of which have to be transported and delivered.
In March 2020 we started an initiative to drastically reduce the amount of printing we do as a firm. This involved changing how we worked (historically we had relied on paper as a form of records storage) but also in reducing the opportunity to print. To achieve the latter we removed nearly sixty printers from our three offices and replaced our other printers with more modern, power-efficient devices that could print and scan documents easily by swiping a security pass.
The impact has been an 80% reduction in the amount of paper we use, and a corresponding drop in the usage of the other related resources. Just as importantly, we are improving our service by sending documents via email where possible rather than relying on the post for routine communications, which means our clients get their information more quickly.
Birkett Long have made a wellbeing commitment to our staff and Partners, which focuses on aspects of mental, physical and financial wellbeing.
We recognise the importance of wellbeing and are dedicated to encouraging wellbeing at work by developing a healthy and supportive environment. We provide resources and support and clarify our own and the individual’s responsibilities.
Our HR team provide a continuous programme of training for managers, team leaders and staff on subjects such as stress and how to manage this at work and publish quick and easy tips to help manage stress in addition to details of useful resources. Staff already have access to a counselling service with face-to-face sessions or unlimited telephone counselling sessions.
Birkett Long have ten trained mental health first aiders across their three offices, who are available for colleagues to talk to should they wish. The training was run in partnership with MHFA England and delivered by Provide who are commissioned to deliver NHS and community services. Trainer for Provide, Lyn Mowforth, said of the venture “We are proud to be able to work with Birkett Long to embed trained mental health first aiders. This training follows HSE current guidance and not only demonstrates a commitment to staff health and wellbeing but provides the organisation with the practical skills to recognise, support and signpost staff who feel overwhelmed or distressed.”
As part of our commitment to the wellbeing of our people, we have lunchtime walking clubs to encourage staff to reap the physical and mental benefits of being active in addition to gaining the emotional benefits of connecting with their colleagues outside of the working environment. Staff also get free fruit in the office once a month to encourage a balanced diet and have access to a bespoke "Workout Wednesday" programme designed by a local personal trainer.
Employees are encouraged to take one paid "volunteer day" each year to help a charity or project in their community supporting good causes in the local community as well as our employees' sense of wellbeing.
Financial worries can affect the mental health of many and we organise seminars on financial management, held in conjunction with Birkett Long IFA.
Our Wellbeing Programme demonstrates the ongoing commitment to our people. Staff benefit from the firm’s flexitime scheme which enables staff to work flexibly around core hours meaning a greater work/life balance is achieved whilst the needs of the business are still met. Our hybrid working model gives staff the ability to work from home for part of their working week.
We all know mental health affects so many people whether it be in their personal life or related to work. Birkett Long is committed to supporting their staff with their mental health issues and offering support. Having fully trained Mental Health First Aiders is vital to enable us to achieve this. We are proud to be an organisation that has driven through the stigma of mental health and is continuing to take positive steps to give support and guidance to colleagues.
Charity and community
We care, for our clients, communities, business partners and each other. A great part of the firm’s success is being able to share that by supporting local charities and organisations. We do that in various ways, through fundraising within our offices, donating legal services and offering individuals’ time. Since 2002 the firm has helped contribute in excess of £420,000 to various charitable causes, including several staff-nominated charities of the year.
The Essex Community Foundation is our current charity of the year and the beneficiary of fundraising in 2021/2022. This independent charitable trust sources charities in Basildon, Chelmsford and Colchester to direct our donations to. We are looking forward to fundraising again this year. The Birkett Long staff fundraising committee organise raffles, quiz nights, afternoon teas, dress down days and a staff tuck shop, in addition to fundraising at staff parties and events.
You can see a list of organisations that Birkett Long has recently supported here.
We have a responsibility to contribute to our community in a positive way. One of our recent campaigns was to carry out random acts of kindness in the local community as part of our 200 years celebrations. You can find out more about them here.
A number of our lawyers donate their time as trustees for various organisations and charities in the local community.