Burges Salmon is a UK leading law firm with over 800 people and 98 partners headquartered in Bristol with offices in Edinburgh and London. We are a Times Top 50 Employer for Women and Law Firm of the Year 2020. In 2021 we were awarded Investors in People Platinum – the icing on the cake!
Burges Salmon first became Investors in People accredited in 1995 (not quite celebrating our 30 years (although our Chief People Officer, Robert Halton was there at the start with his previous firm) with our Head of People Advisory, James Fountaine.
Leading on what, back in those days, was a mammoth data gathering and time-consuming accreditation. A firm of less than a third of our current size, at the time, the standard proudly sat on our salmon coloured paper and was a mark to our clients of how we look after our people.
As time passed, it became clear that our approach to our people, how we rewarded them, their development, our values and culture stood us apart from others. This was perhaps when we recognised that Investors in People was more than a standard but an opportunity for us to test how high performing, and different, we were as a firm. Investors in People allows us to hone what we are doing and test the impact of what we have done – it is far from being a tick box exercise!
Shifting the focus
A sigh of relief came when the standard had shifted away from collating all those documents (and a deep sense of satisfaction came in destroying the archived evidence – in a sustainable way!) to a greater focus on people interviews and outcomes.
We knew that our people had great stories to tell, and it was these stories helped us secure Gold in 2015. The only time the Chief People Officer was permitted to hug the lead for Investors in People, a pandemic prevented such a hug from reoccurring in 2021!
As a firm looking at the gold and platinum standards, we felt that we did it all; what Investors in People challenged us to do was test us on how we measured activities and look at the impact they were having.
Investors in People helps Burges Salmon demonstrate their passion for people
We are passionate and committed to investing in our people, and Investors in People helps us demonstrate that passion. Efforts put into this focus have benefits across the business from how the people team reported on its strategic priorities, communicated with our people, and engaged with our clients.
As we geared up for our Investors in People Platinum accreditation, we had a change in assessor. Our new assessor Jenny Goward continued to challenge us in all areas of the standard but in a supportive and collaborative way that helped us succeed. She shared our passion and commitment to the people agenda.
The platinum achievement was all the more significant following a time during which the business and every one of our people faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the global pandemic, and it is of huge importance that our unique, collaborative culture has prevailed and been strengthened as we navigated our way through uncharted waters.
Working together to embed an ambitious five-year strategy
Our 2021 Investors in People reaccreditation fell in the final year of the firm’s three-year strategy cycle. This allowed our report findings and recommendations to directly feed into our strategic planning process, which produced our new ambitious five-year strategy.
There is no doubt in our minds that Investors in People is key to helping us to embed what we do well, challenge what we do and measure the impact on what our people and communities expect of us.
The world of work is changing: how we interact with hybrid working, technological advancements and ever-changing social norms. We expect to see Investors in People keep up with these changes and challenge us so that our people remain at the heart of our business – a business with a soul.