A niche London disputes practice has become the first law firm to sign up to the Good Business Charter (GBC) – an ethical business initiative that includes such commitments as to employee wellbeing and paying suppliers quickly.
Bellevue Law joins major companies such as Deloitte, Capita, Brompton Bicycles and Richer Sounds in pledging to abide by the 10-point charter, which launched this month.
The GBC initiative stems from the work of a charity, the Good Business Foundation (GBF), which is backed by both the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.
The charter is partnered with the Living Wage Foundation, the Ethical Trading Initiative and the Prompt Payment Code, among others.
The 10 commitments are to: paying a real living wage, fairer hours and contracts, employee wellbeing, employee representation, diversity and inclusion, environmental responsibility, paying fair tax, a commitment to customers, ethical sourcing, and prompt payment to suppliers.
Florence Brocklesby, Bellevue’s founder, said being accredited by the quality mark was a “recognition of [our] commitment to behaving fairly to our people, our clients and our suppliers, and conducting our business responsibly and sustainably”.
She said: “We support the charter as it encourages and recognises responsible business practices. Increasingly, clients and suppliers are looking to work with ethical businesses, and GBC accreditation allows them to identify these.”
Asked what adaptations the firm would need to make to achieve compliance, she said the application was easier because many good business practices were already embedded.
“We won’t need to make many substantive changes, as we have always tried to run the firm ethically, but the charter requires us to formalise this.”
Four-fifths of Bellevue’s staff are women and all of its employees are working parents who work on a flexible basis.
Ms Brocklesby added: “The application process is straightforward and I’d encourage any business committed to good practice to sign up. We’re proud to be a member of the GBC family.”
GBF chief executive Jenny Herrera said: “When people choose a law firm to represent them we believe they will want to favour ones that as well as helping them get results, also treat their staff well and care about their impact on the environment.
“We hope law firms of all sizes will seize this opportunity to show the public they are committed to doing business responsibly.”
Back in 2015, London firm Bates Wells became the first UK law firm to gain ‘B Corporation’ certification, recognising its commitment to social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
As part of the process, the firm had to amend its LLP deed to provide that it was not just run for the benefit of the partners.
Innovative London firm Radiant Law became the second last year, while there are 33 other law firms around the world – particularly in the US – that are B-Corps too.