Freshfields is the winner of the Best Social Mobility Programme category for its involvement in the Ready for Work programme. The programme works with businesses to help people who are at risk of being homeless gain and sustain employment, and Freshfields has chosen to specifically focus on supporting ex-offenders within that framework. Overall, the judges felt that this project was tackling a demographic that is often overlooked, and that the firm worked effectively with external partners to achieve success. The judges were particularly impressed by the firm’s decision to set targets for their involvement with the project, which were in line with those used nationally by Ready for Work, and the programme has had impressive results: 43% of participants entered employment within a year of their placement, and 83% sustained that employment for at least six months.
Winner's quote: "We were delighted to win Best Social Mobility Programme at the MPF Awards for Management Excellence 2015. The award was for Ready for Work, one of our key community programmes in London. The programme aims to provide those with significant barriers to employment, for example unspent criminal convictions, with an opportunity to gain the skills and confidence they need to get back into work. This award is testament to the hard work of all the volunteers around the London office who support the programme." Kevin Hogarth, Global HR Director, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
From left: Marcus Brigstocke, Kevin Hogarth (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer)
and Victoria Smith (Accessprofessions.com)
Allen & Overy is the runner up for its efforts to improve social mobility through a range of programmes promoting access to the legal profession. Allen & Overy’s Smart Start programme, offers work experience to non-privileged students, and the firm also co-founded the PRIME commitment, which now has over 80 signatories. In addition, Allen & Overy also runs ArtBeat, which uses arts education to build the skills needed for the workplace .The judges were impressed with the scope and range of Allen & Overy’s work, and felt that the drive to improve social mobility was clearly supported at all levels of the firm.