Environmental, Social and Governance
As a corporate citizen, we are committed to work practices, policies and initiatives that contribute positively to the welfare of our people and the social fabric of our society.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations impact almost every aspect of the way that Sparke Helmore does business. From energy to suppliers and policies, ESG forms a critical benchmark against which we measure both progress and risk.
From an Environmental perspective, we have an Environmental policy in place to show our commitment to safeguarding the environment. We understand the importance of environmental responsibility and are committed to a program that encourages and fosters environmental and sustainable awareness across all our stakeholder groups. We have conducted a GHG audit and are using this information to identify emissions reduction activities and scope our path to “net zero” and Climate Active certification.
To support a commitment to Social, we have a number of policies in place that support management of relationships with our employees including our Code of Conduct, Family & Domestic Violence, Flexible Work, Parental Leave, Grievance, Sick & Carers’ Leave, Workplace Gender Equality and Work Health & Safety. Sparke Helmore also made its first Modern Slavery Statement under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) in 2021 and its second in 2022, approved by the firm’s Board. We are committed to a process of continuous improvement.
Sparke Helmore has a longstanding history of supporting First Nations communities through our pro bono activities and our Reconciliation Australia endorsed Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan reflects our desire to do more to advance reconciliation in Australia. The engagement, voice and representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on our reconciliation journey is vital, and we are committed to building connection, opportunities and seeing progress across the legal industry.
Governance at Sparke Helmore is also policy led, supported by a Board and Executive Committee structure, a robust Risk Management approach as well as public statements around Fraud & Corruption Control and Business Ethics.
In 2022, our National Managing Partner, Andrew White made a pledge on behalf of the firm as part of the Diversity Council Australia’s #StandForRespect campaign to stand against gendered harassment and violence in all its forms.
Making public statements like this, and sharing policies, such as our Family and Domestic Violence Policy, is the right thing to do and demonstrates our commitment to implementing robust frameworks and processes that align and support our business. Sparke Helmore’s second Modern Slavery Statement was approved by our Board in 2022, which outlines our ongoing commitment to identifying and understanding the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking in our operations and supply change. We report on risk measures so that we contribute to a global reduction in modern slavery and human trafficking.
We also have a strong Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program with six employee-driven networks that reflect our priorities and strategic focus. The Program forms an important part of our workplace culture, involving our Six Degrees Women’s Network that we run for staff and clients plus, Access/Ability, Culture & Identity, Flexibility, LGBTIQ+, and Parents & Carers Networks.
Our Supply Nation membership is integral to driving forward our Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Program across our business operations - incorporating Indigenous enterprises in our procurement decisions and putting our values at the forefront of our supplier interactions.
Community investment considerations
We’ve been providing pro bono legal services for decades, with a more formalised Pro Bono Practice since 2004. Our focus is to provide access to justice for individuals experiencing disadvantage in our communities, as well as supporting not-for-profits and charities with their legal needs.
Our Community Program is another way for our people and the firm to contribute and make a measurable difference to the communities in which we operate, such as volunteering, mentoring, resource-sharing and fundraising.
Sparke Helmore’s In Kind Report highlights some of our key activities as well as the challenges faced by the organisations and individuals we work with each year.
Environmental was a key element of our 2020 strategy and remains high on our list of priorities as part of our 2024 strategy. Our aim in committing to sustainability as a firm is not only to do the right thing but, to meet the expectations of our people, our clients and the wider community. We are working towards having a reputation as one of the most sustainable law firms in Australia.
We are committed to continuously improving our environmental performance across all aspects of our operations - from the buildings we choose to operate from, to our power usage strategies working in partnership with our landlords, to how we reduce and manage our waste as well as how we make purchasing decisions and travel in a work capacity.
We also recognise that environmental protection is both an individual and a shared responsibility. Therefore, all partners and employees are responsible for:
- working in a manner that protects the environment
- discouraging others from working in a manner that poses risk to the
- cooperating with, supporting and promoting environmental protection in the
- workplace, and
- reporting and/or rectifying any conditions that pose risks to the environment.
Our contribution to a sustainable world is underpinned by our legal work in the area of sustainability and environmental impact.
We will use our Environmental Management System to actively monitor and measure our efforts to minimise our environmental impacts from sources including:
- emissions and energy (using green power where possible, efficient use of energy in our premises, avoidance of non-essential business travel and encouragement of a sustainable commute regimen)
- natural resources (sustainable use of natural resources or the use of renewable alternatives)
- waste and recycling (minimising the generation of waste and adopting “reduce, reuse, repair, recycle” principles), and
- supply chain management (sourcing products that are environmentally sustainable and dealing with suppliers who have made a commitment to sound environmental management).
We ensure that our systems and processes reflect current Australian best practice and comply with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
Sparke Helmore is a member of the Australian Legal Sector Alliance (AusLSA), an affiliation of Australian law firms dedicated to reducing their environmental impact. We actively participate in this forum by sharing knowledge and experience as well as learning from other law firms around sustainability. We undertake the annual reporting regime of the Alliance, committing to transparency and accountability around the outcomes, including sharing the outcomes with partners and employees through the firm’s intranet.
Our Environmental Policy addresses Sparke Helmore’s commitment to the principles of sustainable development and best practice environmental management.