Our starting point: attraction
Up until 2019, our attraction techniques were pretty traditional – travelling to university law fairs and handing out Farrer & Co merchandise.
We reviewed this with the aim of reaching a wider pool of applicants and improving our sustainability. We switched from travelling to law fairs to participating in online events. We condensed our lengthy 16-page brochure with laminated covers into a one-page, double-sided z-card. (This is now available online, saving 8,000 pages of paper.) We also made changes to our branded merchandise; we offered reusable plastic coffee cups, and eco-friendly tote-bags evolved from cotton waste and used plastic bottles.
This year, however, we have chosen to get rid of giveaways completely. We have produced videos for candidates to tell them about our firm rather than distributing printed materials. We have also launched a graduate recruitment email briefing and built 28 new partnerships with both Russell and non-Russell Group universities.
We have done this all from our homes and without unnecessarily travelling hundreds of miles and harming the environment in the process.
Our next step: assessment
Rather than restricting our sustainability efforts to our attraction techniques, we also thought about the next stage of the candidate recruitment experience – our assessment processes. The pandemic provided the perfect opportunity to kickstart this review and update our processes as we transitioned into the virtual world.
The first obstacle was our two-stage training contract interviews during summer 2020. Our interviews have always taken place face-to-face in our London office, meaning candidates would travel (occasionally by plane) to Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
We also required candidates to complete a short written exercise as part of the first interview and respond to a case study as part of the second interview. Both of these elements were always printed onto paper and given to each of the 40-50 interviewees.
This all changed. All interviews were carried out via video conferencing platforms and our written and case study exercises were distributed virtually, saving a lot of unnecessary paper.
Aside from training contracts, we also assess 90 to 100 candidates before 30 are accepted onto our vacation schemes. Our vacation scheme assessment days typically take place in early March and previously involved multiple printed instructions for group and written exercises, printed PowerPoint slides, and hardcopy travel expense claim forms for each candidate. Like interviews, these assessment days also took place in our London office.
Our 2021 assessment days were hosted via a video conferencing platform, using breakout rooms for our group exercise and an online form for our written exercise. We also emailed digital instructions and materials to candidates, further enabling us to eliminate our use of paper and printing.
Our future plan
Although we have already started taking small steps to change our long-term recruitment behaviours and improve our environmental impact, we recognise that we still have some way to go.
We understand that to continue to review, reduce, and report on our sustainability, we must remain open-minded and critical of our efforts in order to move forward. This will include analysing how we approach recruiting talent in a post-pandemic world and continuing to carry out our successful virtual assessment techniques.
We would like to maintain our virtual presence on university campuses through online events and the use of video. We also plan to continue to provide assessment days via video conferencing to provide a sustainable and inclusive way of recruiting candidates who might otherwise not be able to physically attend our office.
We are excited to continue finding creative new ways to cut waste and make carbon savings as part of the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance. We also look forward to reporting on our environmental impact collectively as a group, whilst sharing ideas and best practice.