DLA Piper Sustainability Report 2021-22Our progress and challenges as we integrate sustainability throughout the firm
In the report
In early 2022, we completed our first materiality assessment.
This was our first assessment of this kind and we wanted to take a robust, comprehensive approach. Our assessment used the double-materiality principle (looking at both the financial and wider social and environmental impacts of our business) and covered the firm’s entire global operations, taking into account nuances across our locations.
The assessment involved engaging stakeholders across our business. In total, we carried out:
- 22 one-to-one interviews with external stakeholders
- 24 one-to-one interviews with internal stakeholders
- 10 focus groups with internal stakeholders
- 1 internal survey receiving 1,203 responses across 6 regions
The assessment identified 15 material issues, prioritised by order of importance both in terms of impact on society and financial impact on our firm. Globally, our top six material issues are:
- Net Zero transition
- Diversity, mobility and inclusion
- ESG risks and governance
- Client advice on environment
- Employee health and wellbeing
- Nurturing talent
Net Zero progress
We have a near-term target to halve our carbon footprint in all three scopes by 2030 against a 2019 baseline.
In 2022 we committed to becoming a Net Zero law firm, with our Net Zero target pending validation by the Science-based Targets initiative at the time of publishing of this report. As part of this target, we plan to cut our emissions by 90% across all three scopes by 2040, and neutralise the remaining 10%.
We have a goal for our UK and European offices to use 100% renewable electricity by 2025, and for all remaining offices to use 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
We’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 47% since 2019/20 across all three scopes.
Much of this reduction is due to COVID-19 impacts, and we still have some ways to go, especially in reducing emissions from business travel and from our procurement.
We carried out climate engagement with some of our key suppliers.
We launched Thoughtful Travel, a campaign that asks our people to think more carefully about business travel, avoiding journeys when they can, and choosing less carbon-intensive forms of transport when travel is unavoidable.
We signed a corporate power purchase agreement to generate renewable energy from a new-build solar farm in the UK.
We have begun to apply our Future Workplace principles, which will allow us to reduce the environmental footprint of many of our offices.
We introduced a new cloud-based data management software, which has allowed us to significantly improve the completeness, accuracy and transparency of our emissions inventory.
We grew our eMission 2030 network to over 170 champions.
We’ll continue to develop a robust climate transition plan, with a focus on transforming our business strategy and our approach to client work to align with our climate ambition.
“We’re following climate science to rapidly decarbonise our operations. And this year we committed to SBTi to become a Net Zero firm by 2040.”
Diversity and inclusion progress
- 30% of all partners to be women by 2025 (40% by 2030).
- At least half of all internal partner promotions to come from underrepresented groups.
- Ensure our Business Services population remains inclusive and representative.
- We’ve improved our partnership gender diversity year on year, from 20.5% to 23%, making progress towards our 30% target.
- 53% of newly promoted partners in 2022 were from underrepresented groups*.
- Our Business Services population remains diverse, at 77% of colleagues coming from diverse backgrounds.
*Underrepresented groups are defined as female, LGBT+, minority ethnic groups, disability and those from lower socioeconomic background. Gender is reported across DLA Piper International offices, and other diversity characteristics are based on UK offices only.
- We began working on improving data collection and insights about the diversity of our business.
- We launched an inclusion e-learning module across the firm.
- We provided unconscious bias training to our partners.
- We launched Elevate – a 12-month sponsorship programme that matches individuals from underrepresented groups with leadership potential with senior partner sponsors.
- We introduced new benefits that aim to level the playing field between men and women.
- We began developing an international strategy to address socioeconomic inequities within our business, and beyond.
- We championed diverse voices and worked to normalise differences through our One Voice Made of Many campaign.
- We launched a new employee network – Enabled – which supports anyone affected by a disability, neurodiversity, or physical or mental wellbeing challenges.
We’ll improve our data management systems and set country and practice-level diversity goals.
“This report has extensive data and analysis on our D&I performance. The effectiveness of our D&I initiatives can be seen through data on partner promotions by gender or under-represented groups.”
Health and wellbeing progress
Our employee health and wellbeing strategy focuses on:
- Raising awareness.
- Meeting diverse needs.
- Delivering the right care at the right time.
- We have trained over 200 SPEAK ambassadors (colleagues trained in how to have conversations about mental health).
- 73% of our people believe DLA Piper shows care and concern for its people.
- 67% of our people feel they have someone at work to whom they can speak about health and wellbeing.
- 78% of our people feel part of a supportive team.
- 70% of our people feel they have the flexibility they need to manage their work and home life.
- We refreshed our flexible working policy and launched a resilience programme to help our people navigate the stresses of lockdown.
- We made our EAP mental health support service available to any of our colleagues’ friends or family members who have been affected by the war in Ukraine.
- We integrated the topic of climate anxiety into our Carbon Literacy training for our UK colleagues.
- We ran several employee engagement surveys to gauge effectiveness of our health and wellbeing initiatives.
- We’ll continue to understand and address systemic workplace health and wellbeing challenges.
- We’ll continue to monitor the use of our EAP service to ensure it’s being used at the same rate as our EAP provider’s client base.
- We’ll continue to focus on expanding our SPEAK Ambassadors programme.
ESG risk management and governance
We’re committed to fully integrating ESG considerations into our mainstream business risk management processes – with a special focus on our approach to client work.
- We’ve been collaborating with The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) on a global research project to understand the shifts in governance and leadership that enable organisations to align business success with sustainability.
- We’ve taken steps to improve our ability to track, report, and act on our key ESG-related performance and risks.
- In 2021, we conducted a TCFD gap analysis and a materiality assessment of our climate risks.
We’ll continue to improve our ESG data governance, integrating key elements of this in our governance agendas and processes.
One of our key priorities will be defining an approach for client intake, to ensure that our client work is aligned with our Net Zero transition goals and our wider ESG agenda.
Client advice on ESG
We’re committed to making business better by helping clients transition to, and thrive in, a more sustainable future. This means playing our part in helping businesses realise the added value that comes with the social and environmental transformation that is underway, and supporting them as they shift to new strategies and even business models, which add planetary and societal benefits as well as commercial gain.
- We’ve been evolving our approach to ESG advice and client intake, to ensure our work is effective in supporting our clients’ transition, and that it makes a real contribution to sustainability.
- We’ve been working to gain more data around the impact of our advice as it relates to carbon emissions and climate change.
- We’ve begun to take a more holistic approach to our advice, which includes stress-testing clients’ assumptions, and viewing individual issues in the light of their overall sustainability journey.
We’ll further integrate ESG into our client intake and use a data-driven approach to enhance our understanding of advised emissions.
“This report has a clear message: every business needs to contribute to a 1.5-degree world. Not work against it.”
Managing Director – Sustainability and Resilience
We’re committed to helping our colleagues grow, supporting them on their career paths, and enabling them to have a fulfilling life outside of work.
Our New Deal, our new employee value proposition launched in 2022, is based on three principles:
- We trust you: trusting every individual and team to find a balance of home and office work that’s right for them.
- We value you: recognising and rewarding the contribution people make through fair pay and benefits, and by providing the infrastructure and resources to ensure long-term success.
- We invest in you: supporting career development, including revitalising opportunities for international development and secondment.
- 80% of our people say they are proud to work at DLA Piper.
- 74% overall firmwide engagement score.
- 83% of our people would recommend DLA Piper as a good place to work.
- 60% of our lawyers have given their time to pro bono projects in 2021.
- 170+ local eMission 2030 champions working towards our climate goals.
- 650+ DLA Piper people served as mentors to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- GBP3m invested into employee training and development in FY21/22.
- 10 hours per person was spent on average by our people on upskilling in FY21/22.
We want to play our part in ensuring our world is fair, stable and sustainable. Our social impact agenda includes bringing important actors together, raising awareness and influencing the agenda, as well as publishing research so that colleagues, peers, clients, regulators and governments can make better choices. We aim to empower these groups by serving as a hub for innovation and practical advice.
- 650+ DLA Piper colleagues volunteered as mentors to young people.
- 137 students in 5 countries were supported by our Head Start programme.
- 58 Fellows across 18 countries were supported by our Global Scholarships Programme.
- USD3.7m pledged in pro bono support to UNHCR.
- We launched a research project examining the socioeconomic impact of DLA Piper in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
- We continued to run and improve our Head Start and Global Scholarships Programmes.
- We rolled out an internal community engagement platform, allowing us to more efficiently manage our fundraising and volunteering activities, and empower colleagues to get involved in community activities.
- We contributed to emergency relief efforts through fundraising and through legal assistance.
- We will develop our international socioeconomic diversity strategy.
- We will continue to evolve our impact evaluation approach.
- We’ll continue to develop our capacity to understand the societal impact we are having through all parts of our business operations – such as through how we treat our people, how we upskill them, how we work with our clients, and how we work with our suppliers.
ESG data and reporting
We are continually improving our approach to reporting on our sustainability performance. This report goes one step further from our previous reporting by further aligning to the GRI Standards 2021 where possible, as well as to relevant indicators from SASB Standards and World Economic Forum’s Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics. You can view our GRI, SASB and WEF indices at the back of the report. Our reporting is not yet where we’d like it to be, and we have plans to continue to improve over the coming reporting cycles.
Carbon Intelligence has carried out a limited assurance of our greenhouse gas emissions figures against ISO 14064-3 standard, and Corporate Citizenship has provided limited assurance of the non-environmental data sets against the GRI Principles of Accuracy, Clarity, Comparability, Timeliness and Verifiability, using the ISAE 3000 standard.