Gowling WLG, in partnership with Lloyds Bank, Anthony Collins solicitors, Deutsche Bank AG and others, has been awarded a Collaborative Action Award by Business in the Community for the establishment of local charity, Suited for Success.
In 2014, Gowling WLG, Lloyds Banking Group and PwC approached business leaders across Birmingham, asking them to nominate talented individuals to take part in a project to meet an undefined need in the city that wasn't currently being met. The project brief was "Participants and their organisations will derive satisfaction from knowing that they have done this because they can and because it was right". The individuals taking part discovered that a lack of suitable interview clothing was holding back unemployed people from returning to work. Their response was to launch Suited for Success in May 2015.
Through collaboration and the donation of space, time, resources including brand and logo creation and intellectual property advice and planning, the team and their sponsors sourced interview-appropriate clothing and premises, and set up a referral scheme from local charities and food banks. John Lewis Partnership donated clothing rails and hangers.
Suited for Success's managing director, Patricia White, said: "Making a great first impression is vital for anyone attending a job interview, but for many of Birmingham’s unemployed men and women the expense of buying a new interview outfit is unattainable. Our ‘Don’t Wear it Share It’ suit donation drive is a simple and great way for businesses to get involved and be part of the solution.”
In its pilot phase, Suited for Success helped 15 clients working with seven job clubs, referral agencies and charities. Since September 2015, work has focused on setting up Suited for Success as a registered charity and acquiring premises to use as a referral centre. In this time, clothing has been donated from over 35 companies and it is anticipated the charity will help over 300 clients in the next six months.
Lorna Gavin, head of diversity, inclusion and corporate responsibility at Gowling WLG, said: "It's been a privilege to work on this project alongside our neighbouring businesses. It's benefited not only the long-term unemployed, but also the junior level lawyers and others who identified the need, devised the response and turned it into a great charity that has a real and measurable impact on our communities."
Quotes from clients helped by Suited for Success include "I felt so confident on the day, other people attending the recruitment day thought I was one of the managers. I felt great", and "Wow, I haven't looked this smart in a while, thank you so much for all your help".