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GSK's Pro Bono Support for GSK's IMPACT Award Winners

In House Pro Bono Stories


We sat down with Antonio Suarez-Martinez, Assistant General Counsel at ViiV Healthcare to learn about the pro bono support GSK provides to support GSK's IMPACT Award winners.

How did this project come about?

GSK and ViiV’s legal team provide pro bono support to GSK’s IMPACT Award winners. The GSK IMPACT Awards provide funding, training and development for charities doing excellent work to improve people’s health and wellbeing. The awards are funded by GSK and managed in partnership with The King's Fund. They are open to registered charities that are at least three years old, working in a health-related field in the UK, with a total annual income of between £150,000 and £3 million. Somerset and Avon Rape Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS) was one of the GSK IMPACT Award winners

How do you launch a project internally?

There is a lot of work to enable a collaboration like this to get off the ground. First, the concept was pitched to the GSK Investments Team. They in turn pitched it to the King’s Fund who they partner with on the GSK IMPACT Awards and socialised the idea with some of the Award winners to gauge whether it would be of interest. Within the legal department there must be approval to provide the support from senior leadership, and an understanding of whether we have sufficient volunteers. We also wanted external law firm partners to come on board and support this initiative. While the idea is quite simple, it took a lot of time and effort to ensure everybody within and outside the organisation was comfortable.


How did you cover this project from an insurance angle?

We have in-house pro bono insurance cover. As part of that cover, for a pro bono matter to be qualified for cover, the GSK Global Pro Bono Committee must approve it.


What made this particular project successful in your view?

They key elements were:

  • Having a project that aligned with GSK/ViiV’s overall mission of supporting individuals through healthcare.

  • Knowing we had incredible charities to support who have inspiring missions, which will in turn inspire volunteers.

  • Ensuring we had the capacity and skillset to support those charities and a great deal of thanks is due to our volunteers and our external law firm partners namely: Baker & McKenzie, Eversheds, Simmons & Simmons, Slaughter and May and Stephenson Harwood.


Tell us more about the particular SARSAS project itself
A joint team from Slaughter and May and GSK collaborated with SARSAS on a pro bono basis on receipt of a six-figure donation to fund specialist services to support survivors of child sexual abuse.

The team navigated complex issues around donations from unclaimed client funds in compliance with regulation, as well as advised on structuring and service provision. Ropes & Gray acted on a pro bono basis for The Flying Child, a specialist provider delivering survivor support services. 


Bringing the expertise of Slaughter and May, SARSAS and GSK to the table meant that we could get the best possible outcome for SARSAS stakeholders. The legal advice allowed SARSAS to receive the donation which, in turn, allowed vulnerable people to have trauma support.


How did you ensure volunteer engagement/senior stakeholder buy in?

By demonstrating the value of this initiative to GSK/ViiV as a corporate entity and showcasing some of the incredible charities that volunteers could work for. It's important to explain that it’s the right thing to do to support charities using skills and not just through funding. The fact we’ve received really positive feedback also helps.


What lessons did you learn from this project which you will apply to future projects?

Finding projects that align with a company’s current charitable or corporate social responsibility engagements helps to sell it internally, both in terms of volunteers and senior stakeholders. 


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