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Our people are our most important asset. We have spent many years building a business and a team to be extremely proud of.

We work hard to ensure a progressive approach to our working lives. To help our people realise their potential and enable them to grow throughout their careers. To develop a culture of trusted leadership where our people feel safe, connected and supported. Where they are treated with respect and kindness in a manner consistent with our values. A place where they enjoy working.

We take our social and moral responsibility to eliminate discrimination very seriously, and promote equality, diversity and inclusion across the firm, recognising that individuality and difference brings strength to the teams we work in, to our firm, our clients and our communities. This is embedded in our approach to recruitment, promotion and development.

We are committed to maintaining an environment where people are recognised for their talent and contribution, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

We ensure we make an impact on social mobility under three common headings – outreach into local schools and colleges to harness ambition, accessibility through apprenticeship programmes to open up routes to qualification, and recruitment practices that ensure a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances.

The health and wellbeing of our people remains at the very peak of the firm’s agenda.

We continue to address the challenges posed by an ever-evolving working and living environment and are now well into the second phase of our comprehensive three-year strategy.

Part of this strategy involves creating and maintaining an environment and culture which attracts and retains the great talent we are proud to possess. We’ve taken huge strides to empower our people to maximise their potential. To go further, we’re now collectively developing a values and behavioural framework to further enshrine our beliefs and approach.

This framework will clearly define an overall set of values and behaviours that reflect the everyday activities we all undertake and, importantly, enable us to better adapt to changing market conditions and continue to grow.

The process of understanding the scope and shape of this framework is well underway; with almost 50% of the business involved in exploratory workshops and everyone else having the option of sharing their views via an online survey. We look forward to finalising this framework, sharing it with the wider firm, and using it to guide our practices going forward.

Fundamentally, we are committed to supporting our colleagues through change, while promoting activities and working practices which holistically improve their wellbeing and resilience.

Our policies and procedures embed a culture of zero tolerance towards bullying, harassment and unnecessary stress, giving everyone a platform to achieve their potential and make positive contributions.

We support a range of different approaches to juggling work, family and life responsibilities, to help our people succeed in ways that work for them, and, last year, we were proud to be awarded Investors in People ‘Gold’ status for the very first time.

We remain steadfast in putting our people first.


Our objectives and commitments

To implement our wellbeing strategy – a 3 year plan targeted towards positively improving the wellbeing of our people, using analytics to shape our ongoing activity.


To increase our outreach into schools and colleges to talk to the workforce of the future about opportunities in a professional services firm.


To focus on our broader EDI strategy, including regularly supporting our people on diversity and inclusive awareness sessions.


To implement affinity networks that provide opportunity for greater connection amongst diverse workforce groups.


To maintain our focus on improving gender balance across the firm, including maintaining the high percentage of female promotions.


To increase engagement in responsible business initiatives through elected committees and firm-wide incentives.



A third of our Senior Management Team and Business Services Heads are female.

Both Executive Partners in Leeds and Manchester are female.

63% of employees are women.

57% of partner recruits since 2022 are female and 100% of all partner promotions in 2023 were female.

68% of Trainees are female

38% of Partners are women, up from 35% last year.

62% of Associates, Managing Associates and Directors are female.

As you can see within these statistics, we have been working hard to make a positive difference to the gender balance within the talent pool on which the future of the firm is built. These figures bear testament to the success of this approach, and to a strong future.

Mental Health at Work Commitment

This year, we signed up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment (MHAWC). It provides a framework to help businesses achieve better mental health outcomes for their people. Developed and curated by Mind, with the knowledge and expertise of mental health charities, leading employers and trade organisations, it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of our people.

Mindful Business

As signatories of Mindful Business Charter, we embed and encourage their four pillars, openness and respect, smart meetings and communications, respecting rest periods, and mindful delegation, into our daily operations.

Investors in People

Last year, we were awarded Investors in People Gold status, having been a Silver employer since 2014. This puts us amongst the top ranking employers UK-wide.

Spotlight: In conversation with...

Matthew Cormack, Training PrincipalTraining Principal Emerging Talent: Diversity; our commitment, approach and progress

Diversity is a fundamental part of our Emerging Talent recruitment strategy.

A diverse workforce promotes a range of perspectives, experiences, skills, and fosters innovation and creativity. Getting diversity right within our Trainee and Apprentice programme not only promotes social progress and fairness, but enhances our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing market and to serve the needs of our diverse client base.

Recent highlights and successes:

  • Aligning with the Responsible Business Committee’s core theme of improving accessibility, we have made great strides in developing our Apprenticeship programme. As of September 2023, we will have four Solicitor Apprentices across the business; a 50% increase over the last two years.
  • Creating a plan to empower paralegals and other non-qualified lawyers to work with their departments and line managers to take advantage of the new SQE route to qualification.

Encouraging change through partnerships

To encourage diversity within our feeder Universities, the Emerging Talent team has developed a strategy of creating commercial and academic partnerships across Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle. These partnerships aim to encourage diversity, to encourage our competitors in the market to follow our lead, and to lobby our University partners to do more.

In the last 12 months, we have:

  • Undertaken a schools outreach programmes with Upstart Enterprise, a seven week business challenge at Walker Riverside Academy.
  • Partnered with Gateshead College (via Newcastle Gateshead Initiative) on the Gateshead College Mentoring Scheme, with the aim of supporting seven students who are interested in working in law.
  • Partnered with RedSTART Educate to deliver a ‘Money Counts’ session for Year 6 pupils, helping the next generation to achieve between financial futures. We supported approximately 50 students across a two day programme.

The key strategic partnership which we have formed over the course of the last year has been with IntoUniversity, and we are really excited about the long term change we can deliver via this collaboration.

IntoUniversity is a UK charity that aims to address educational inequality and empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to reach their full potential.

Their mission is to provide intensive academic support, mentoring and enrichment programmes that inspire and equip young people to attain higher education.

We have supported IntoUniversity in hosting, at Ward Hadaway’s offices, students on two programmes during the year:

  • In our Leeds office, our volunteers supported 40 young people with a BusinessInFOCUS day. This involved our team of volunteers working with students on an immersive day-long business simulation.
  • In our Manchester office, our volunteers supported 25 people from The Albion Academy in Salford with a CareersInFOCUS workshop, introducing the students to themselves and their careers and working interactively to inspire the students.

What’s next?

We will continue our involvement with IntoUniversity throughout 2024, ensuring that we balance our work across all of our geographies.

One project that we are particular excited about is a new initiative which has been developed in conjunction with Durham Law School. This partnership is designed to introduce school pupils from less-advantaged backgrounds in the North East, Yorkshire and the North West to consider the study and practice of law.

This will include some in-bound work at Durham University, but also at least two outreach days at our offices in Leeds and Manchester to support all of our regions.

We will be actively looking for volunteers for these initiatives in due course and will provide further updates in next year’s report.

Find out more about our responsible business initiatives

Our Communities

Giving back to the communities in which we operate has always been, and will continue to be, a key priority for Ward Hadaway.

Find out more

Our Environment

Environmental damage is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. And as a founding member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance and accredited to ISO14001, we are keen to play our part.

Find out more