What is Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) involves cherishing the differences among your employees while shielding them from discrimination. It focuses on representation, fairness, and equal opportunities for all genders, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, religions, disabilities, and ages.1
Law firms have been making strides in pursuing DE&I. For example, Linklaters has introduced billable credit and recognition for contributions to DE&I under a new global policy2. While Baker McKenzie’s DE&I efforts are championed at the highest level by the firm’s Global Chair and its Global Executive Committee whose members each have KPIs around diversity3.
Striving towards DE&I is important in its own right. However, commentators have highlighted that pursuing DE&I, and an effective DE&I strategy, also improves a business’ bottom line. A 2017 study by McKinsey found the most diverse organisations outperform competitors by 33% and are 21% more likely to experience above average profitability. Decision making by diverse teams also delivers better outcomes than that of individuals 87% of the time4.
However, it is evident, particularly from reports such as the “1% Study”, that further efforts must be implemented5. The report highlighted that just 90 of more than 13,000 partners at major law firms in England and Wales are Black6. The efforts made by firms, such as the aforementioned Linklaters and Baker McKenzie, should be praised and acknowledged for their efforts in pursuing this noble cause. However, it is important to recognise that further work is needed. Thus, despite creating initiatives and policies to address the gap – firms have a long way to go to tackle the ethnic diversity gap, especially at a partner level7.
Further comments have also been made in relation to outreach and creating opportunities for those from underrepresented backgrounds to engage with firms. These have outlined that key to a diverse and representative workforce is ensuring that candidates from underrepresented backgrounds apply to law firms in the first place. Therefore, it is pivotal to create a fostering, inviting, and inclusive atmosphere that attracts all groups, or targeting specific underrepresented groups8.
Doing our share: DE&I at Halkin
At Halkin, we are also focused on promoting DE&I. In doing so, we are aligned to the diversity platform The Amos Bursary to offer a mentoring scheme for Black students. In so doing, we ensure talented people of African and Caribbean descent have the opportunity to excel in education and beyond. We are also in the process of developing an early start mentorship programme aimed at supporting BAME university students. This programme will involve providing advice, guidance, and other opportunities focusing on entering the legal profession.
1 What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in the Workplace?, https://gtmhub.com/resources/articles/diversity-equity-inclusion
2 Linklaters rolls out billable credit and recognition for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, https://www.linklaters.com/en/about-us/news-and-deals/news/2022/october/linklaters-rolls-out-billable-credit-and-recognition-for-diversity-equity-and-inclusion
3 Our Commitment to Inclusion & Diversity, https://www.bakermckenzie.com/en/aboutus/diversity
4 6 Steps To Build A Successful DE&I Strategy From Scratch, https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccaskilbeck/2021/05/11/6-steps-to-build-a-successful-dei-strategy-from-scratch/?sh=32f49d4a44ec
5 The 1% study can be accessed here: https://publuu.com/flip-book/48941/146663/page/18
6 Only 90 of 13,000 partners at England and Wales law firms are Black – report, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/oct/19/england-and-wales-law-firms-black-report-1-per-cent-study
7 The magic circle has a race problem – and it isn’t getting better anytime soon, https://www.thelawyer.com/the-magic-circle-has-a-race-problem/
8 Law firms take action to increase diversity in the legal profession, https://www.lawcareers.net/Explore/Features/21092021-Law-firms-take-action-to-increase-diversity-in-the-legal-profession