Eight City firms have pledged to change working practices that can cause mental health problems for their employees. Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Eversheds Sutherland, Hogan Lovells and Simmons & Simmons are among signatories to the Mindful Business Charter – an agreement that brings together banks and law firms. The charter was created by Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard, alongside Barclays.
All signatories have committed to a set of principles centred on improved communication, respect for rest periods and considerate delegation of tasks. Performances of how firms are adopting these principles will be monitored by groups within each organisation.
Richard Foley, senior partner at Pinsent Masons, said as professional advisers are ‘often in a position of privilege’, it can be easy to underestimate the impact of the work they do on their wellbeing. ‘Mental health issues impact people at all levels and in all sectors. Changing working practices have increased those pressures significantly. It is not good enough to just accept that as the price we have to pay. We have a responsibility to make changes,’ Foley added.
Charles Penney, senior partner at Addleshaw Goddard, added: ‘Mental wellbeing has a huge impact on organisations and individuals, their friends and families. In many instances, small changes can have exponentially positive impacts in reducing stress. This in turn helps improve retention, motivation, and productivity while addressing absenteeism.’
The charter has been supported by mental health charity Mind, the Law Society, LawCare and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
Wellbeing in the legal profession has become an increasingly important topic in recent years.
For the past two years The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has tracked the wellbeing if its members by surveying solicitors with one-to-five years’ post qualified experience on their work environment. In this year’s resilience and wellbeing survey, the JLD reported that among the division’s members as a whole, 38% of respondents said they had experienced mental health problems in the past year, up from 26% in 2017.
Last week the Gazette reported that magic circle firm Linklaters is to trial a digital platform it hopes will create recommendations for improving the wellbeing of its lawyers and staff.