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Establishing the Mindful Business Charter

In 2018 Pinsent Masons came together with three of the UK’s biggest banks and nine of the UK’s top law firms to author and launch an unprecedented alliance to change avoidable working practices that can cause mental health and wellbeing issues for employees.

The challenge

Professional advisers are often in a position of privilege, so it is easy to underestimate or overlook the impact of the work they do on their wellbeing. Mental health issues impact people at all levels and in all sectors. Changing working practices - including work across multiple time zones in an 'always on' era - have increased those pressures significantly. Working with Barclays and law firm Addleshaw Goddard, we formed the view that it is not enough to just accept that as the price that our people simply have to pay. We have a responsibility to make change.

Philip Aiken

Managing Director at Barclays

Barclays takes the health and wellbeing of its employees very seriously and that extends to our external advisors who we view to be an extension of our legal function. The take-up of the Charter from so many of our banking and legal counterparts shows the power of collaboration to foster change. I believe it shouldn't stop there. We hope that in time these principles will be applied in all organisations across all sectors.

The solution

The Mindful Business Charter, developed by Barclays, Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard, is the first time banks and their legal services providers have come together to reach a shared agenda for supporting mental health and wellbeing.

The charter was launched in 2018 and its signatories now include banks Lloyds Banking Group and NatWest, and the law firms Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Eversheds Sutherland, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright and Simmons & Simmons.

All of the signatories have committed to a set of principles centred on improved communication, respect for rest periods and considerate delegation of tasks. Performance against these principles will be monitored as part of relationship review meetings.

In signing, these organisations pledge to promote a culture of openness about mental wellbeing, ensure responsible business is included as an area of assessment during significant procurement processes and drive forward the actions and necessary change in support of the principles of the Charter.

Emma Mamo

Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind

Experiencing poor mental health at work is really common regardless of the kind of role you do, but if you work in the legal sector, there are particular factors that could put you at greater risk of developing a mental health problem. This Charter acknowledges that changing working cultures won’t happen overnight but it’s a step in the right direction – recognising some of the factors that can impact on staff mental health and committing to tackling them within their organisation.

The result

Although there is no magic wand when it comes to wellbeing, we believe the Charter has already started to make a tangible difference to stakeholders across the signatory organisations. It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it is notable that since the initial launch several other organisations from within and outside of the financial services sector have signed-up to the Charter.

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