Major UK law firm DWF was named Employee Volunteering Business of the Year in last night’s North West Responsible Business Awards organised by Business in the Community. The awards are the UK’s longest running awards championing responsible business and are designed to shine the spotlight on companies that are helping transform communities as well as evolve their businesses.
DWF won the main award in recognition of its community investment programme, which raises the aspirations of schoolchildren, helps people back into work and links businesses with community groups, while strengthening staff engagement and client relations. DWF was recognised for moving from ad hoc tactical community activity to a strategic programme, focusing on the social issues most relevant to its business and communities. The firm’s community engagement survey identified education, employability, health and wellbeing and homelessness as core themes that employees in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston wanted to tackle and the firm’s efforts were focused in these areas.
DWF’s 5 STAR Futures volunteering programme bridges the gap between what students learn in school and the behaviours and skills needed for the world of work. Employee volunteers offer mentoring and support to small groups of pupils, with volunteering numbers exceeding the 25% participation target. The firm has 260 employees from across the business lined up to support the programme in schools across the UK and has invested 476 hours since 1 April 2013. The programme has successfully inspired younger generations, equipping them with the skills and confidence to move into employment. It has also benefiited DWF’s employees with volunteers reporting strengthened employee engagement, improved well-being and enhanced coaching skills.
In addition, DWF is the first UK law firm to work with BITC to second a Business Connector into the local community. This is fully funded by DWF and links private sector organisations with specific community groups. Further, DWF’s support for BITC programmes Ready for Work and Get Ready! has resulted in 70 people finding work in the north-west.
DWF’s Managing Partner and CEO, Andrew Leaitherland, says “I am incredibly proud of the way we do business and the sustainable partnerships we have created within our local communities. We recognise that through strong partnerships, great things can be achieved and by taking time to focus on social issues most relevant to our business and our communities, we can continue to drive action where it is needed most. We are well placed to continue delivering responsible growth that makes DWF a great place to work and helps to build stronger communities.”