Freshfields emerges as the fairest of traders

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has scored a public relations victory over rivals on corporate social responsibility (CSR), becoming the only firm in the Magic Circle to promote Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual event to promote the Fairtrade labelling scheme.

Freshfields held an event at the firm’s City HQ to promote the scheme, which pays producers of ‘Fairtrade’ marked coffee, tea, cocoa and other low-priced cash crops a ‘social investment’ premium.

The event shows Freshfields, again out-manoeuvering rivals in the war to be seen as the most ethical international law firm, after last month becoming the first international firm to publish an externally-verified global CSR report.

A Freshfields spokesperson would not comment on the firm’s PR coup, saying only: “We do normally stock Fairtrade products but we have increased the amount at the moment. It’s proving popular.”

Meanwhile Hammonds has controversially eschewed Fairtrade coffee in favour of lesser-known ‘Rainforest Alliance’ brand, which a spokeswoman described as “similar to Fairtrade” but that “goes further, giving a fair price to growers and returning funds to protecting the environment”.

A Hammonds spokesperson said the switch follows a change of supplier in which “sustainability, the environment and social responsibility were some of the criteria we looked at when inviting tenders”.

Elsewhere, a representative from Rainforest Alliance Beans was also present in the London canteen of Olswang today, despite the firm also distributing free coffee to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.

And at LG, which neighbours the site on London’s South Bank where Fairtrade Fortnight was marked with a street festival on Sunday, managing partner Hugh Maule said: “We are doing a fair trade promotion in our café at the moment. All coffee, both takeaways and in the café and meeting rooms, is Fairtrade.”

Other City firms said they stocked Fairtrade goods but were not marking the event especially.