City firms sign pledge committing them to take practical action to boost literacy

updated on 30 January 2017

Nine City firms have signed up to the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2017, agreeing to take practical action to tackle low literacy in the United Kingdom. The firms involved are Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, Bird & Bird, Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pinsent Mason, Slaughter and May, and Travers Smith.

The National Literacy Forum’s pledge is now in its second year and requires signatories to take action to help raise literacy levels in three distinct areas: within their workforce, in their local communities and at a national level. Research from the CBI has found that low literacy undermines the United Kingdom’s economic competitiveness and sustainability. In addition, it is also a significant barrier to social mobility.

A number of the firms signed up to the pledge in 2016 and have been involved with a variety of initiatives over the past year, including as follows:

  • Baker McKenzie held grammar training for staff members, ran an office lunchtime book club and continued a volunteer reading programme with a local school.
  • Slaughter and May continued their weekly reading programme with a local primary school, which has run since 2000, and supported the National Literacy Trust’s flagship Young Readers Programme.
  • Bird & Bird created an office book club and volunteers from the firm make weekly visits to a local school for a reading club.
  • Norton Rose Fulbright invited local schoolchildren to visit its London office for World Book Day.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, says: “Businesses play a vital part in helping improve literacy in the UK, increasing our economic competitiveness and improving social mobility. The UK’s low literacy levels are holding our economy back – if all children left primary school with good literacy skills, our future workforce and economy would be far stronger as a result. We’re delighted that so many leading law firms recognise the challenge the United Kingdom’s literacy levels pose and are taking practical action to tackle the problem on a national and local scale.”