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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Responsible Business Insights

Future Focus

Our Responsible Business approach: Future Focus

The financial year 2022/23 was marked by significant disruptions caused by the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, the energy crisis, market volatility and geopolitical tensions.

Amid this uncertainty, our firm continued to focus on helping our clients navigate a complex legal and regulatory landscape and on advancing our own responsible business strategy. We did this with an eye towards the future, concentrating on areas critical to our sustainability and the challenges and opportunities we know our clients will face in the future.

Energy transition

Energy transition work is already one of our leading global capabilities, and, whilst we continue to accept instructions relating to fossil fuels when consistent with our Climate Change Policy, we are significantly growing this portfolio of work and helping our clients transition to clean energy sources. Our advisory and transactional work spanned solar, wind and hydrogen, with significant infrastructure projects and work on sustainable finance. This work is only going to become more important for us, and we continue to build global capabilities through our Energy Transition Initiative to ensure that we can support the future needs of our clients.

Our work for the US Department of Energy on scaling up hydrogen production and storage is one of the standout examples, where through our expertise, we can contribute to the decarbonisation of the economy.

Responsible Tech

Many clients have turned to us for help navigating the rapid development of generative artificial intelligence (AI). With a proven track record of guiding clients through new legal and regulatory landscapes, we have embraced our role in fostering responsible implementations of cutting-edge technologies, including at our firm. Our collaboration with organisations such as Oxford University and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, has helped us build our expertise and we will continue investing in our capabilities in this field.

Exceptional talent

We have continued to modernise our approach to talent and to improving employee experience, including by building and rolling out a wellbeing strategy. We have invested in strengthening capabilities across learning and leadership development, to ensure that we are adopting market-leading people practices globally. These interventions are key to attracting and retaining the best talent, and to how we deliver excellence for our clients today and in the future.

Inclusive culture

Building a truly inclusive culture is an imperative for us, consistent with our values expressed in our values-based Code of Conduct. We will continue to focus on laying the foundations for meeting our inclusion targets set for 2030. While we have made good progress to date, we need to accelerate in some areas such as gender as we acknowledge that there is more work to be done to reach our 2030 target of at least 40% of the partnership being women. We have exceeded our targets on ethnic minority partner promotions: 38.8%, against a target of 15%. At Executive Leadership Group, Executive Director and Director levels of the firm, we have met our gender inclusion targets of at least 40% women and 40% men. 

Our inclusion goals are crafted to address and correct any unfair or structural biases that may hinder the recruitment, consideration or advancement of individuals from historically underrepresented population groups – and promote candidates having the broadest possible backgrounds, perspectives and lived experiences. We aim to provide equal opportunities and deliver the equitable career experiences that all our people deserve.

Materiality assessment

This year we have engaged with our people, our clients and our civil society partners to understand their perspectives on the issues which are critical to our being a responsible business and what we should be prioritising. 

While we are proud of our progress, the fast-changing needs and expectations of our clients, talent and other stakeholders mean that we need to continuously challenge ourselves to do better, to anticipate what’s next. That focus on the future will continue to guide us.

Read more in our 2023 Responsible Business Report.