Tyrone Jones has been head of values and corporate responsibility for DWF since 2010. He was previously head of corporate responsibility at Lloyds Banking Group.
How important is CR to the legal profession?
It’s vital to stay competitive. CR is about a firm’s business conduct and its reputation. What we do as legal service providers is a given in the minds of clients – we provide outstanding service. How we do this is our competitive edge. In the legal sector there is competition, but not much obvious market
A credible approach to CR reinforces trust and helps keep your brand relevant. This is about enlightened self-interest through doing what is right. It helps to avoid scrutiny from stakeholders and ensure clients never see a law firm as a risk in their supply chain. Any loss in trust will affect reputation, perception of your offering and, ultimately, profitability.
We may be slowly coming out of recession but the past few years have changed the way we do business forever. Firms ignoring the importance of CR do so at their peril.
How has your role changed during your time with the firm?
Through growth the demands on the role have got bigger – more people and a wider geographical spread. However, the role has not changed in terms of strategic focus.
But perception of the role has changed internally. It’s fair to say that at the beginning of our CR journey, most people in the business thought I was appointed to encourage them to volunteer in their local community and do some occasional fundraising for charity.
What are the biggest challenges facing the business from a CR perspective over the next year?
We have three big challenges. Increasing expectations from our stakeholders has to be top of mind. Clients want not only to see evidence of what we do to demonstrate CR and the extent to which we live our values, but also how our approach can add value to their business. This extends to our environmental performance, community involvement and diversity agenda.
The second challenge is creating processes that enable us to evaluate more effectively the social value of our activities. Being motivated to get involved is not enough and we have to show what difference our focus on values makes.
The third is keeping the business focused on what will support the other two – visible leadership and an enabling culture.
If you weren’t doing this, what else would you like to be doing?
I tend to be inspired by ordinary people who do extraordinary things that matter, so I’d like to think I had the qualities and patience to teach.
What are you aiming to achieve?
In periods of economic uncertainty it is more important that businesses act as a force for good. Unfortunately, the reality is that operating in such uncertainty has tempted some law firms to scale back their CR activity, particularly their community involvement, due to financial considerations – this is the wrong approach.
We can all effect positive change by staying relevant and connected to the social, ethical and environmental issues prevalent in society today. In my experience, businesses rarely lack the motivation to be a positive influence on the world around them; the stumbling block is determining what steps they need to take to start so they can
become more responsible, transparent and sustainable. Doing good is good for business. The endgame is to ensure that, as a firm, our values inform every business decision we take.
Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with?
My wife. We spend so much of the working week on the move both at work and home that we rarely have a quiet moment together.
Failing that it would have to be comedian Dara Ó Briain. He has an opinion on everything, which would make the time pass quickly, and he’d definitely see the funny side of the situation.
Firm facts (2012/13):
Equity partners: 59
Net profit: £20.8m
Profit per equity
What does a CR head do?
“CR at our firm is about the way we do business, who we are and what we do, but more importantly than all this, how we do it,” explains Jones.
“As CR head I have to keep a strong focus on the policies and practices that shape a positive employment experience along with the need to ensure the way we do business helps to build stronger communities through a focus on transformational activity
in support of key social issues such as education, employability, health and wellbeing and homelessness.”
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