Freshfields’ Global Green Group
How Freshfields colleagues are improving our environmental impact
With a commitment to responsible working practices and making a positive difference in the communities it serves, Freshfields actively encourages and promotes employee-led networks across all offices.
The Global Green Group is a grassroots initiative set up by the responsible business team and employees across the firm who are passionate about sustainability. Several offices have their own local green group, whilst others consist of facilities and office managers.
Having set ambitious targets in our firmwide environmental strategy, employees wanted a way to get more actively involved, working from the ground up. The Green Group brings colleagues together to collaborate, share best practice, and engage with the environmental strategy at every level. Ideas and suggestions from employees are pushed forward by the local Green groups and facilities teams, and successful initiatives and achievements are shared regularly with the global network.
Despite the pandemic forcing colleagues to work from home, which impacted in-person events, Freshfields was able to run some inspiring activities. These were not only instrumental in educating colleagues on sustainability and environmental topics, but helped individuals get involved in local initiatives to improve biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, and practice more sustainable lifestyles, both in and outside work. The following initiatives are only a small selection of the great work that Freshfields colleagues are doing to have a more positive environmental impact.
Freshfields’ senior leadership team have encouraged colleagues to make use of a Freshfields Community Day. All employees and partners are invited to use this day each year to volunteer and make a positive impact in the local community.
Colleagues from the London office volunteered in community gardens, helping clear paths, plant bulbs, prune shrubs, and remove litter.
The Manchester office planted trees, cleared non-native plants, and raised money for a local charity, City of Trees, which is delivering a green recovery by restoring woodlands and green spaces in Greater Manchester.
Colleagues at the Hong Kong office took part in the annual beach clean-up, while the Community Day at the Washington DC office involved a tree planting activity in support of the national non-profit, Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project ‘DV LEAP.’ DV LEAP is a Freshfields’ pro bono partner organisation whose work supports domestic violence survivors through appellate advocacy.
Up to 70 per cent of a company’s CO2 emissions come from its supply chain, making it an obvious area to focus on when moving to a more responsible and sustainable future. Ensuring that attention is paid to environmental issues is one of the three pillars of Freshfields’ Sustainable Procurement approach, which enables us to minimise our environmental footprint and improve our positive impact on society.
In 2021, the Freshfields procurement team defined and agreed a new direction and strategy, embedding sustainability criteria into the supplier selection process. Having committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between NGOs and businesses committed to reducing emissions and preventing the worst impacts of climate change, Freshfields has agreed a SBTi supply chain target, including a baseline spend with SBTi suppliers. We support small suppliers with environmental strategies and encourage communication between suppliers to share best practice.
The CE Green Challenge
A team of volunteers from our Rhineland offices, made up of members of facilities, office management, The Freshfields Lab, and Document Specialists, built a platform across several existing software products, to create The CE Green Challenge.
Over a two-week period in November-December 2021, all colleagues were invited to complete a daily survey, earning points for various green actions, including walking or cycling to work, eating a vegan diet, using reusable water bottles and cups, buying local produce and items not wrapped in plastic, and suggesting personal green actions.
At the end of the challenge, eco-friendly prizes (including bee sponsorships) were awarded to colleagues and teams who performed the best. The challenge was a brilliant success, with 180 participants submitting 1171 green entries, climbing a cumulative total of 5344 stairs, and riding 1397km by bike – almost enough for a return trip between our Frankfurt and London offices!
The Rome office ran a virtual event entitled ‘Pollution and Human Health’, hosted by office managing partner Gian Luca Zampa and Dr Ferdinando Laghi, president of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment.
Dr Laghi, talked in depth about the risks to human health that come from man-made pollution and destruction of the environment. Pollution affects future generations more than we think. In fact, prolonged parental exposure to a polluted environment can lead to epigenetic alterations, transmissible to offspring, which can lead to higher risks of chronic degenerative diseases.
In March 2021, we invited one of our suppliers, Natural Capital Partners, to deliver a presentation to our colleagues globally on carbon offsetting. The discussion included core concepts of how carbon offsetting works, the types of projects happening today to avoid the release of carbon and to sequester carbon back into sinks, and Freshfields’ own approach to offsetting business travel through Freshfields REAP.
Freshfields’ leadership and colleagues volunteering in the Green Group, will work hard not only to continue the success of our green initiatives at a local and regional level, but to ensure continued positive momentum towards our ambitious global environmental targets. Ideas and changes implemented by green-minded employees are equally as valuable as the strategic decisions by the firm to reach key goals such as moving all offices to renewable energy by 2030 and reducing business-travel related emissions.