Modern Slavery Statement 2017

References to we, us and Walker Morris in this statement relate to Walker Morris LLP on behalf of itself and all of its subsidiaries.

Walker Morris published its first modern slavery statement in November 2016. As our second modern slavery statement published in accordance with section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, this statement sets out the work we have undertaken to build on and develop our efforts to ensure transparency in our business and throughout our supply chains and to eradicate the risk of modern slavery.

Our business

We conduct all of our business in an honest and ethical manner.

We continue to operate as a single site, full service commercial law firm based in Leeds, focused on providing our clients both in the UK and internationally with partner-led, high quality, insightful advice. We remain committed to the significant advantages our single site brings in terms of a strong team-based, collaborative culture for our staff, with the inherent cost effectiveness that a Leeds base brings.

As our business grows and develops, our client base will inevitably also undergo some changes. However our clients, many of whom are blue chip, continue to be drawn from a broad range of sectors which includes manufacturing, retail, financial services, food and drink, technology and media, energy and renewables, construction, public sector and infrastructure, healthcare and sport.

As a major employer in Yorkshire, our employees are at the heart of our business and one of our core values is talent engagement. We focus on our staff and we commit to working with them to develop their skills by giving them opportunities, freedom and support.

We comply with all applicable legislation relating to employee terms and conditions, including pay, and none of our staff earn less than the Living Wage. We have also worked hard to continue improve on employee engagement, building on the areas that the Best Companies ‘b heard survey’ identified where we were performing well and addressing those areas where there is scope for improvement. This includes listening to and acting on ideas put forward by employees through our employee forum.

Corporate responsibility policy

Corporate responsibility is something that should be of concern to all businesses; we recognise the importance of corporate responsibility and creating a positive social impact.

For Walker Morris this is about managing our business in a way that enhances the positive and minimises the negative economic, social and environmental impacts of our activities and services. We aim to combine the provision of high quality commercial legal advice to our clients with a rewarding working environment and an awareness of the wider community.

This involves balancing the interests of our stakeholders, which includes our clients, our employees, the local community and relevant regulatory bodies. Our stakeholders are fundamental to the success of our business and to achieving our vision of the responsible delivery of legal services by highly motivated employees working with clients to produce commercial and cost effective solutions. Our CR policy builds on the values we hold as a firm for the benefit of all our stakeholders, and guides us in making a positive social impact.

Our CR strategy continues to focus on three key areas:

  • promoting an inclusive and supportive working environment and opening up access to professional and development opportunities;
  • being a responsible contributing member of our local community; and
  • minimising our environmental impact.

Having a talented and diverse workforce, where each individual brings their own unique capabilities, experiences and characteristics to their work, is key to being able to respond to our wide ranging client base. We are committed to seeking out and retaining talented and motivated individuals and to treat all people with respect and dignity. We strive to create and foster a supportive and understanding environment, in which everyone is given the opportunity to realise their maximum potential free from discrimination and harassment. We believe diversity is about more than having a policy. It is about encouraging diversity and allowing everyone to be the best they can be without barriers. Our approach is to support diversity rather than simply tick boxes.

Working with our suppliers

We expect all of our contractors and suppliers to meet the same high ethical standards that we apply to our own business.

We have a de-centralised procurement process and a complex supply chain involving a large number of suppliers.

This year, we have completed a detailed risk assessment of the tier 1 suppliers in our supply chain. This involved scoring our suppliers against various criteria, namely (i) any known ethical breaches by or criminal convictions of that supplier of which we are aware; (ii) the sector the supplier operates in; (iii) the geographical location of the supplier and the prevalence of modern slavery in that location according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index; (iv) the level of our spend with the supplier; and (v) the length of our relationship with the supplier. We then used this scoring to categorise our suppliers as representing a high, medium or low risk of modern slavery taking place in their business.

We worked with 1,094 suppliers with last year:

  • none of our suppliers were categorised as high risk;
  • 33 of our suppliers were categorised as medium risk; and
  • the remaining 1,061 suppliers were categorised as low risk.

Of the 33 suppliers categorised as medium risk, we are undertaking further due diligence in respect of the eight suppliers which received the highest scoring.

We have also implemented a new practice management system, as part of which we have begun to streamline our procurement processes and to collect additional information about our suppliers.

We will continue to review and refine how we engage with our existing suppliers and our processes for onboarding new suppliers, including additional supplier due diligence and incorporating appropriate provisions in our contractual arrangements with our suppliers.

Our policies

We already have a number of policies in place, including an anti-bribery policy, a corporate responsibility policy, an equality and diversity policy and a whistleblowing policy, which are reviewed and updated as appropriate on an annual basis.

We are in the process of finalising our modern slavery policy to reflect the changes and the progress we have made in relation to our supplier processes. We intend to roll this out as soon as possible and to provide training to our staff on the key points.

Key performance indicators

We have continued to make good progress in developing and refining our anti-slavery procedures and we believe that at this stage, it remains inappropriate for us to adopt any specific modern slavery key performance indicators. However, we may adopt performance indicators in the future.

Board approval

This slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 30 April 2017 has been approved by the Board of Walker Morris LLP on behalf of the members, in accordance with section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act.

Ian Gilbert, Managing Partner

November 2017