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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We align the interventions we take with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  This is a series of 17 goals set by the UN so that interventions can be categorised as to which goal they are working towards. 

It’s fair to say that we are doing more in some areas than others, but we feel it’s a starting point, and any intervention is better than none. Here you can discover what we are doing towards the goals.

Further information on the goals can be found here:

Goal 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere

We are very aware of poverty across the world and the knock-on issues it can cause in relation to health, long term life prospects and other challenges.  We have links with a number of charities that have the aims of reducing poverty both in the UK and abroad.

Our interventions have focused on company-wide recycling and re-use schemes for a wide range of items including clothing and school uniforms, spectacles, postage stamps, writing instruments and medication blister packs as well as the more usual aluminium drinks cans etc.

Each of the schemes operate across all of our office and receive a high level of engagement by our people.

Goal 2 - Zero Hunger

As part of our work, we help farmers and landowners to produce food in a sustainable manner, and more recently have been helping groups of landowners collaborate on schemes to give value to the carbon their land sequests from the atmosphere.

On a more practical basis, each year we have collections in each of our offices for local food banks, the proceeds of which are distributed to those who need it most in our local communities.  

Goal 3 - Good Health and well-being

When we look at the Good Health UNSDG we focus on the health and welfare of our people, who are the most important part of our business.  We realise that without our teams we would simply not exist and so have introduced a number of interventions and schemes to look after the well-being of our staff. 

These have included talks on financial, social, emotional and health well-being by external experts in their field, including sessions on the menopause  and how that can affect colleagues in the office. 

We have launched a well-being Hub on our intranet which has a host of resources which aim to help staff if they have any issues or want to learn more about any aspect of well-being at Roythornes. 

Our well-being team is an enthusiastic group of people across the company who meet regularly to discuss any issues relating to staff welfare and who drive our initiatives forward.

Finally, all of our staff have access to the Yu Life App – a brilliant app that encourages exercise, fitness and relaxation across the company and which has a ‘friendly but competitive’ steps taken league table through which staff can join and challenge colleagues!

We’ve also invested in training a number of mental-health first aiders who are always there to listen and help should a member of staff feel the need to talk.

We have a happy and generally healthy workforce and feel that this helps us to be a better employer and a more successful business.

Goal 4 - Quality Education

We believe that everyone on the planet deserves a decent education, but sadly this is not always possible for a number of reasons.  We feel that in this instance we need to focus on or local community and so have taken a few small steps to help including setting up a community bookshelf in our Peterborough office to benefit the Peterborough Reads initiative. Peterborough Reads is an organisation which aims to inspire families across the city to read together and help parents and carers support their children’s literacy skills.

Goal 5 - Gender Equality

We are committed to encouraging and achieving a working environment which is underpinned by fairness to all individuals, where equality and diversity are recognised, encouraged and valued, and the concept of individual responsibility is accepted by all.

We recruit, train, develop and promote on the basis of merit, skills, qualifications and abilities alone. Where a decision needs to be made, whether it is on pay rises and bonuses or disciplinary action, this will only ever be based on an individual’s performance and contribution to the Company.

Goal 6 - Clean water and Sanitation

Clean water should be a right for every individual and our efforts towards this goal focus around reducing our consumption of this precious resources.

Much of the work has involved the installation of technology in our offices which reduces the volume of water we need as a business whether its for our toilets or for our staff making drinks throughout the day.   As an example we’ve installed ‘Zip taps’ at our offices for hot and cold drinks – these are a much more energy and water efficient method of making drinks that boiling kettles or using water coolers, and make a massive difference when, for example our largest office employees over 100 members of staff.

On a client side, it’s worth mentioning that we work hard to help our farmers develop schemes that use less water such as reservoirs and water catchment projects.  These all help to reduce the volume of ‘clean’ water used on crops etc. 

Goal 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Renewable energy is an area that as a business we are recognised experts.  Our teams are working on some of the largest solar energy schemes in the UK (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects), which bring together up to 20 farmers to provide clean energy.  We’re also involved in large battery storage projects and wind farm projects, as well as hydrogen schemes. 

On an internal level we’ve invested heavily in renewable energy schemes.  We’ve installed solar panels on our Spalding office to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and more recently have installed electric car charging points so that our staff can charge their electric cars whilst at the office. In addition we’ve made it easier for our staff to purchase electric vehicles with an innovative salary sacrifice scheme which eases the purchase of electric vehicles.

Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

A thriving economy is good for everyone and it’s important for the economy that we have a pipeline of talented people who can help in that growth.  We feel that we can help in nurturing the future talent by offering a number of schemes that can help.

We offer work experience and summer placements at our offices, so that young people can experience what it is like to work in a modern commercial environment and better equip themselves for their future careers.  We are also fully behind the recently introduced Apprenticeship route to becoming a solicitor.  This is a scheme which means that individuals no longer have to go to university and law school to become a solicitor, as they can achieve the same by taking an apprenticeship.  We have a number of people following this route within the company and we are looking forward to seeing them develop as they complete the scheme.

Looking further down the line, our people often help out at school careers events – explain the work a solicitor undertakes, in the hope that the students will have a better understanding of the profession as they make their career choices.

Goal 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Many of our clients are in the business of making or supply physical good to their customers, whether this be fresh produce or engineering components.  As an example, our base in Spalding is very close to most of the major fruit suppliers in the UK who supply the fruit we see every day on our supermarket shelves.    Most of this produce travels by roads and transport costs are a large part of their costs.  We have supported the trunking of the A16/A17 roads in the region as we feel this will reduce the transport costs and delays for the business in the region and of course cut the emissions from the vehicles as their journeys will have less delays and standing time on congested single carriageway roads.

These business support thousands of jobs in the community and bring in millions of pounds to the economy so we are happy to support them in their drive to become more efficient at what they do.

In terms of innovation, many of our clients are at the cutting edge of their work and are involved in technologies that will improve the sustainability of food production and distribution systems. These include business who are building vertical farms to feed the nation, developing efficient warehousing systems to improve logistics, and extracting proteins from in-field food waste which can be used to improve the diets of the general population.

Goal 10 - Reduced inequalities

It’s important that we live and work in a world where equal opportunities are offered to all.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and make no distinction between our staff on grounds such as race, gender or background.

Our apprenticeship schemes offer the opportunity of a career in the law to those who may not have been able to follow such a career path a few years ago, and we have many members of staff who have ‘risen through the ranks’ from support roles to fee earners with our continued support.

We also treat our clients in the same manner and make no distinctions – we simply aim to help our clients whoever they are by offering the same high standard of legal advice.

Goal 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

We all live in communities of some sort and some of our offices are in bustling city centres.  We encourage our staff to cycle to work or use public transport wherever possible.  We also encourage the use of public transport such as trains when attending meetings or travelling between offices (again whenever possible), as part of sustainable travel plan.

Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

As a business we inevitably consume resources such as electricity, gas, water, paper etc, but we feel that we should be doing everything we can to minimise this consumption not only to improve the sustainability of the business but also to reduce the costs of the business.

Over the last five years we have taken active steps to reduce our consumption of resources.  These interventions have ranged from the installation of solar panels on the roofs of our offices to internal competitions to reduce the level of printing we do, or the amount of electricity we use.

We’ve also made a considerable investment in a more efficient heating and ventilation system at our Spalding office which uses less energy and hence will reduce our emissions.

Between 2018 (our base year) and 2023, we have seen a considerable reduction in some areas of our resource use including reductions of over 60% in the amount of paper and toner used across all of our offices, similar reductions in our electricity and water usage.  These are impressive figures – especially when you consider that in the same period our headcount increased by 37% - so we are using less resources with more people.

Goal 13 - Climate Action

Most of the interventions we have taken will have some impact on the climate.  Whether it’s recycling materials which five years ago would have been discarded, installing solar panels on our offices or encouraging staff to consider electric vehicles, there will be a reduction of emissions and hence less damage to the climate.

This goes further though and runs through the whole company – for example when we are looking at purchases, we consider the environmental impact of the purchase as part of the decision-making process.  To assist with this we have implemented a procurement policy.  This has led to us, for example, buying pens made from sugar cane rather that new plastics and commissioning promotional materials that can be re-used.

We’re very keen to take further interventions on climate change and are now actively looking at our supply chains to see where action can be taken.  For example:

  • When we fit out new offices we specify whenever possible sustainable materials for their construction and decoration.
  • We have encouraged our stationery suppliers to deliver our orders in re-usable plastic crates rather than cardboard.  We are now working with them to look at how the items themselves are packaged with their own suppliers.
  • Our caterers now supply food in reusable containers rather that disposable plastic boxes.  These are washed and returned so they can be re-used.

We hope that by asking our suppliers to consider more sustainable ways of delivering their products and services, they will also consider doing the same for their other customers which can only benefit the climate in the long term.

Goal 14 - Life Below Water

There is not much we can realistically do directly to affect the oceans but we feel that the work we are doing to reduce the use of plastics within our business goes some small way to help.  We provide staff with re-usable water bottles to reduce the reliance on bottled water, as well as a recycled ‘tote’ bag so that the number of plastic bags used across the company can be reduced.

Goal 15 - Life on Land

Much of our work is helping agri-businesses – those who look after the land and grow food for us to eat.  We have helped many of our clients establish environmental management schemes which protect and enhance the environment by providing safe places for wildlife, insects and flowers for bees to forage on.   We also work with landowners who are leaders in regenerative farming practices – working more with the land to produce more food with less water and chemicals whilst nurturing and restoring soli health and biodiversity.

Water plays a massive part in all ecosystems, and many of our clients need water to irrigate their crops.  We help them to build reservoirs which harvest rainwater in the winter for use in the summer for irrigation.  At the other end of the scale, where there is too much water in the wrong place we help farmers and landowners to manage it with flood defence schemes to protect what they grow from water surges.

On a more practical basis, our staff have taken part in a number of tree planting schemes which will enhance the environment and help to provide places for wildlife to thrive.

Goal 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

As a company we promote the rule of law.  This ensures equal access to justice for all, building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions, and reducing corruption and bribery.  To support this we undertake some pro bono work for services or organisations that otherwise would nto have access to legal services.  We also engage in advocacy on legal reforms that will support a fairer legal process.

Goal 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

We work in partnership with many organisations and other bodies to promote a more sustainable way of doing business.  This includes our suppliers, who we encourage to source and provide us with more sustainable resources, local groups on schemes which improve the communities in which we live and work, and other companies involved in our specialist sectors to shape emerging legislation and guidance on sustainable issues. We have specialists in environmental law who advise businesses on sustainable development, and on ways in which they can reduce their impact on the environment as part of their business operations.

We also network and share ideas with other businesses who are on the same sustainable journey as us - sharing ideas and experiences is one of the best ways to improve and by doing this we hope that we are helping businesess as a whole to improve.