targetjobs Awards – 2022 Winner Sustainability in Early Talent Recruitment

About Ward Hadaway

Ward Hadaway was one of the first companies to join the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance and committed to reviewing, reducing and reporting on its trainee and apprentice recruitment processes and as a result- identifying more sustainable alternatives. One of the central tenets of our business approach  is that we are committed to ambitious targets to reduce our impact on the environment, committing to net zero by 2030, and we knew our graduate recruitment strategy had to reflect that.


We undertook a review of our early talent processes and operations from a sustainability stand-point. This was driven by: our desire to maximise the positive sustainability outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic; and a wider programme within the Firm on sustainability and the creation of a Responsible Business Board. We also joined the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance, having noticed there were no smaller regional-based firms and therefore recognising an opportunity for us to create engagement, particularly in the North East market. We are humbled by the impact we have had, and the relative ease of improvement when compared with the effect it has on our planet.

Our initial review was fruitful in identifying opportunities to be more sustainable. Some examples include: identifying the need to have a more equal spread of our Graduate Recruitment Team (GRT) across our 3 offices in order to reduce travel; noting our expectation of candidates always involved travel and printed documentation; reviewing suppliers, from the more obvious impactors, such as freebies, but also less obvious such as catering, which could be eliminated completely, or producers of online content who we can inspire to follow suit.

Results and reporting

We no longer provide “freebies”, reducing waste/production of single-use plastic, and have moved away from printed literature towards video and online content designed with longevity in mind, thus reducing the likely need to re-shoot and the associated environmental costs. Our last order of “freebies” was 3000 units costing £4800 – a figure which represents our previous annual spend on such items. Not only have we made an impact by permanently reducing the number of units to 0, we have made a significant saving to reinvest into sustainable recruitment practices such as our online content. This impact extends to attendance at the careers fair itself, with the average cost of attendance at one fair being £1000, partly attributed to 3 separate return train journeys for our attendees. Across a full recruitment season, this would amount to c.£10k and 30 return train journeys by our people.

This impact extends into our assessments, where previously we’d have had at least 3 employees travelling to assessment centres in addition to the candidates. Even if we are unable to completely eliminate travel, we’re now able to have all of our people (and candidates) using laptops instead of producing hundreds of paper-based exercises and assessment materials.

Our Future plans

We have credible plans to reach our short and long term sustainability goals. The immediate issues have been relatively easy to solve, but whilst quick wins are important first steps, we recognise that it is what we do next that will have the greatest impact. Using the pillars of the SRA, we plan to review, reduce and report on a broader spectrum of factors this year. This will include a more detailed review of our spend and application data in order to reinvest our time and budget more wisely. We will incorporate questions around sustainability into our recruitment process to inspire a generation of legal talent who are engaged with our vision for a greener firm.

As one of the smaller signatories of the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance, we feel we’ve had a big impact in showing our commitment ahead of a number of our competitors in the Top 100 and we therefore hope to inspire other organisations within the market, both bigger and smaller than our own, to do the same. We feel the importance of our contribution is reflective of the wider environmental crisis – no person, company or country is too small to make a positive change.

We pledge to dovetail with charities where we have Partners in trustee positions in order to broaden our impact and will use relationships with future trainees and scholarship students to spread our message, whilst gaining their views on what will have the biggest impact amongst their peer group.

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