In Focus: September - Cost of living, Customer service, Engagement, ESG & Collaboration

05 September 2023

We asked the Carpenters Group senior leadership team 5 hot topic questions. Here is their thoughts on the road ahead...

Q: What can our industry do to support those most in need?

A: “With the unprecedented ‘cost of living crisis’ the UK is facing we must stick together, support each other and not be afraid to ask for help.

We must look at our charity work externally and have a mind to the charities, like foodbanks, feeding those struggling. We must look internally to our people who may be struggling to make ends meet, to heat, cook and buy food.  What can we do to help?

For sure this is no time to bury our head in the sands, we need to stand up, be counted and support each other.”

Donna Scully, Director
Carpenters Group

Q: What are the biggest issues affecting customers and colleagues at the moment?

A: "Customer service is at the heart of everything we do at Carpenters Group. We are very aware of the impact of the cost of living crisis. We are a regulated business and take extremely seriously our regulatory obligations to treat customers fairly and act in their best interests. All of our colleagues receive training on how to identify and deal with vulnerable clients.

It is recognised in these difficult times that customers can be more demanding and some can show a lack of respect to our front line staff. All of our colleagues receive training on how to provide a first class customer service and how to deal with difficult customers."  

Richard Norbury
Head of Quality Assurance, Carpenters Group

Q: What advice would you share about how to engage with diverse teams?

A: “We understand the importance of engaging our diverse teams, whilst providing a positive employee experience. Respected leadership and clear channels of communication are key to creating a positive workplace culture.

We know that employer benefits for different demographics need to be attractive for all. This is an evolving process as whilst some benefits are appreciated by all, conceivably 18 year olds tend to have very different ideas to what makes an organisation great to work for compared to an employee in their 40s!

Employees want to work for an organisation with an inclusive culture. We’ve had a positive response to the launch of our Diversity & Inclusion working group. We have seen an array of topics brought forward, which are important to our employees, including; LGBTQ+, ethnicity, religious beliefs, mental health.”

Sarah Pickerill
Head of People, Carpenters Group

Q: How can businesses like Carpenters Group prioritise ESG

A: “ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is a hot topic at the moment and I predict will now forever remain so, especially with regard to the damage being done to our environment. Climate change is happening in front of our own eyes and as the most recent WWF report demonstrates, global biodiversity has plummeted over a very short period of time.
But what can we do? At Carpenters Group we believe that a company’s impact is not measured by its statements or guidelines it is measured by its actions.
ESG is embedded into our thinking from the Board down and Carpenters Group have long been big supporters of the communities in which we operate and whilst we may be able to more easily measure and see the impact at the local level, we are all part of a global family. We therefore have and will continue to take actions to have positives impacts.”

Rick Ellis-Sheldon, Chief Finance Officer
Carpenters Group

Q: Why is collaboration important in your industry?

A: “Collaboration. An essential ingredient to the litigation process in my view. Greater collaboration between parties usually results in better outcomes. How so? Well a multitude of reasons actually and I am not just talking about the level of compensation.  First of all we must never underestimate the impact that the litigation process has upon an injured party.  As well as dealing with serious injuries and the impact of that such as job loss or family breakdown, facing a combative Defendant who questions their honesty and integrity at every stage and refuses to engage early with rehabilitation and interim payments acts only to make them feel frustrated and angry at a system that is already bewildering and adds tenfold to the stress and pressure already felt.   We have all heard clients tell us that they feel a cloud has been lifted when the litigation ends.

In those cases where the Insurer is willing to engage and where both parties are prepared to be as transparent as they can – the experience is hugely different. It requires trust on both sides but the whole experience is much better for the client.  On the Defence side, there is more accurate setting of reserves and our side our client is receiving timely rehabilitation and appropriate interim payments to provide financial stability when it is needed.  Mapping meetings ensure the case progresses in a timely manner and there are no big surprises being pulled out at the last minute.  It is not always perfect and sometimes it can de rail but the client journey is less fraught where collaboration is achieved.

Our willingness to collaborate should never be taken as weakness.  We adjust how we litigate to fit the circumstances we face but our starting point is to seek out collaboration is possible.

Collaboration is not restricted to our opponents.  Our serious injury lawyers try to weave this in to many aspects of our day to day lives.  For example collaboration with charities.  We do a lot of work with Headway to try to ensure that our clients have a community where they themselves can collaborate with people who have been on the same journey as they have.  We also work with Brake – The National Road Safety charity and last year collaborated with Merseyside Police to deliver talks to young people across Merseyside about road safety during National Road Safety Week in November.”

Carol Hopwood, Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury
Carpenters Group