Sustainability Spotlight: Integrating efforts to boost ESG outcomes

Many businesses have enviable but siloed ESG efforts. Uniting them can accelerate progress as teams become engaged through inter-company communication. Inflexion’s support of Chambers and Partners’ ESG journey has helped it make great strides.

As a business all about people, Chambers and Partners understands the importance of having an engaged workforce. The world’s leading legal ranking and insights intelligence business delivers detailed insights across 200 jurisdictions and started its ESG journey over a decade ago.

Its DEI programme launched in 2012 as the ‘Women in Law’ initiative, consisting of external awards, seminars and articles to highlight leading women in the legal profession. In 2015, the business expanded this to include all other demographic denominations.

Realising firms were hungry for data around this, Chambers began integrating DEI into its research in 2019 and making a significant push to include more diversity in its listings. With Inflexion’s then-recent investment putting wind in its sails, Chambers began tracking metrics across firms on how their diversity was changing year-on-year, reporting on macro trends and encouraging further progress.

The progress goes beyond commercial gain: Chambers also set about building on its efforts, with the internal INSPIRE committee set up in 2020 to focus on DEI and responsible business, update policies and implement new ones, and conduct internal training initiatives and panel events with external speakers. It’s effective at engaging the team, with 45 members representing c. 10% of Chambers’ entire business. “INSPIRE spans the whole company and brings people together who normally wouldn’t work together. Allowing them to become involved and contribute towards creating the solutions encourages employees to buy in to the solutions and that’s when change really happens,” explains Matthew Taylor, Chief People Officer at Chambers.

Reaping the benefits

The firm’s work has been recognised externally, as Chambers became a certified Disability Confident Level 3 ‘Leader’ in 2023, just three years from initial application, demonstrating high levels of commitment from across the business to build the required processes and structures. The business is also proud to be a member of the Halo Code and a London Living Wage Employer.

The efforts and accolades matter as they help attract and retain talent, with newer cohorts demanding much more of firms in terms of how they run their businesses. Chambers’ genuine desire to run an equitable business that promotes inclusivity among all its stakeholders puts it in good stead as it can demonstrate commitment through demonstrable actions.

The firm also offers products for its client base to support their own DEI. Their Awards inspire law firms to embrace DEI owing to the strength of the Chambers’ brand; reports on trends in the US, LATAM and Asia Pacific help share expertise; and Expert Focus allows client experts to share knowledge about what is current now and share advice.

Chambers has made significant advances in reducing carbon emissions too, with Inflexion’s Digital team supporting Chambers’ shift to a digital delivery format to replace its decades-old hardcopy model. It was a large endeavour with big results: there had been very little tech when Inflexion acquired the business in 2018, and now it’s a digital-delivery proposition, helping to create data analytics and cost and carbon savings. The CTO worked to great effect with Inflexion’s Digital team on this, and it’s enabled the employees to be more efficient and effective as it evolved Chambers to a totally digital subscription-based product offering on a revamped platform. “The client uptake was very positive, especially in the US. It’s helped us to track more data for ourselves and our clients, and it’s improved our perception in clients’ minds as we moved from a publishing business to a data and analytics business,” Matthew recalls. And by not printing its rankings, it saved on production and global transportation, reducing carbon emissions by a staggering 76%.

Integrating an ESG approach

It’s clear Chambers has long had the right intentions around ESG, but formalising them was another endeavour.

He wanted to think holistically about a well-run business and bringing together each different strand of environmental, social and governance. He and the facilities manager created a framework with a multifunction committee and brought interested stakeholders together to look at ESG across the business, ultimately developing a number of policies including a supplier code of conduct and a biodiversity policy.

Matthew credits Inflexion’s support as key to the company’s integration launch and ultimate success. “I felt the ESG meetings they host to bring their portfolio companies together are excellent for information sharing, and the questionnaire that is sent out is a great framework to consider where you should put your focus and helping your business to perform. You need to make the most of their support, reaching out to them as they’re only too pleased to help.”

And it’s paid off, with targets set for staff retention and carbon emissions showing progress year-on-year. The positive direction of travel even saw Chambers race ahead of the Inflexion portfolio ESG rankings from 37th to 1st last year, what Matthew proudly calls “a huge leap in progress”.

Looking ahead, the focus is on continuing to drive positive change, whether reducing the pay gap for gender or ethnicity, reducing energy usage, or increasing recycling. “It’s about hitting and exceeding the targets. The other focus is about communication to the wider business to ensure everyone feels empowered and engaged about having a responsibility to their colleagues and our wider community and understanding the impact they can have in improving things,” Matthew says.

He offers advice for any firms looking to formalise or integrate their ESG efforts: “Look holistically across the business, think about the stakeholders you want to engage with to drive change, and have a communications plan to cascade through the business for the successes you achieve. And above all else, enjoy having a positive impact in your own employee base as you can better engage with them and attract the best talent as a result. It’s something you can really take pride in.”

Inflexion led the buyout of Chambers and Partners in 2018 before selling its investment to Abry Partners in 2023, in a sale that valued Chambers at over £400 million and generated a 4.7x return for investors. Inflexion subsequently made a minority investment into Chambers and Partners to support the business’s continued growth.