My name’s Kate Fergusson and I’m the head of responsible business here. My role at Irwin Mitchell is built on our commitment to being a leading responsible business.
At the heart of our Responsible Business strategy is a commitment to creating inclusive and sustainable relationships with our key stakeholders. That means working with our clients in an ethical and responsible way, supporting our local communities through our volunteering and charitable giving initiatives and creating working environments where our colleagues feel they belong and are enabled to thrive.
Stepping Into A New Role
I'm really proud to have taken up a brand new role here in 2022. There is a sense of really positive change focussed around our strategy for sustainable growth, it is exciting to be part of that change.
One of the things that attracted me was our values. It's something that stands out along with our heritage, reputation and brand. There’s quite a lot of pressure, being the first person in a new role but I’m really enjoying it. It's a really unique opportunity to make a difference and help shape the future of the firm.
I’m a trained solicitor, and I've worked in the legal sector for a long time so that's given me grounding in how we work here. It’s helped me to better understand how we can make responsible business, how we do business and engage everyone across the firm in the delivery of our strategy.
As a new starter, I experienced an incredibly friendly and supportive welcome. People went out of their way to make sure that I had everything that I needed, that I was connected to the right people. That’s the human touch that matters to me.
Understanding Responsible Practice
I'm asked quite often what the difference between responsible business and ESG is. For me, Responsible business is about the commitment we’ve made to embedding responsible practices into our culture. It's about making sure that everybody within the organisation has responsible business as part of their day job.
Whether you work in HR, finance or you're in one of our legal teams, this is about how we all work together. It's about how we make decisions, how we engage with clients, how we recruit, support and enable the people in our teams. I think responsible business really captures our culture and what we're trying to do to make a positive impact on our clients, our colleagues and our communities.
ESG is a phrase being used more regularly over the last few years, particularly from an investor perspective. It provides a mechanism for assessing how an organisation has embedded environmental, social and governance principles into its operations.
Essentially, I think it’s about encouraging businesses to implement responsible practices and to do so in a way which enables them to demonstrate progress to their stakeholders.
As a business, I believe we have a responsibility to make a positive impact on our society and play our part in terms of addressing key societal and environmental issues. As colleagues, we feel that sense of pride that we're working for an organisation that takes its commitments seriously.
And we know that clients are really interested in what their suppliers are doing to address environmental, social and governance issues. They want to know that they can work with a law firm that has integrity, one that they can trust.
So I hope that that will bring opportunities for us as well in terms of how we collaborate with our clients on addressing some of the issues that will impact us all in the future.
A Brighter Future
When I started my career, responsible business wasn’t something that many law firms were investing in. It's been amazing to see how this has evolved and become a real priority. I think one of the biggest changes that I've seen within the legal sector is the increased focus on improving diversity and inclusion, with emphasis on collaboration and sharing best practice.
We still need to increase the pace of change but it feels as though there have been some very positive steps forward. Hopefully, in the years to come, we'll also be saying the same thing about the impact that we've had on addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.
In all of the work that we do, we're trying to leave our society in a better shape than we found it. I've got two children who remind me constantly of the need to think about our impact on the world around us.
The advice I’d give to someone who wants to get involved in Responsible Business is to have a go and accept that it might be a learning curve, don’t be frightened of making some mistakes along the way.
Our work is fundamentally about creating positive change and sometimes you have to be bold to make that happen. There are people who will support you if you've got a good idea, so don't be afraid to voice your ideas and ask for help.
We can all make a positive impact, and if you're lucky enough to work for an organisation like ours, then you've got the support to do that. There are so many ways you can get involved with initiatives here and we’re always looking for enthusiastic new colleagues who can help us to make a positive difference.
A Career With Purpose
At the heart of everything my team does is their focus on making sure that responsible business is part of everybody's day job here. We’re all empowered to make a positive difference and it makes the culture here such a refreshing and rewarding one. We’d love you to come and join our journey.
Read Kate's professional profile
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