Around the world, many commercial law firms face similar diversity challenges – few ethnic minority students even apply to work for them, while women lawyers are grossly under-represented at partnership level.
But one leading UK law firm, Wragge & Co, is determined to enhance the diversity of its workforce, and has set about re-engineering its entire recruitment and retention process to make this happen. Potential recruits – from a wide range of social classes and ethnic backgrounds – are targeted while still at school, while the firm’s entire workforce is entitled to apply for ‘no-strings’ flexible working. Even academic entry recruitments have been relaxed because they were felt to be potentially discriminatory – and supplemented by more objective assessments of capability, such as ‘situational judgment tests’.
As part of the martindale.com Connected ‘Legal Luminaries’ interview series, Wragge & Co’s head of corporate responsibility, Lorna Gavin, outlines her firm’s initiative on camera. To watch the interview, click the image below.
Lawyers viewing the interview might wonder why Wragge & Co is making such an effort on this issue – especially given the poor state of the UK economy. But for the firm, there is an overwhelming commercial imperative for doing so – it wants to recruit and retain the best possible employees, whatever their background.
Time will tell whether the firm’s various initiatives will make a real difference to its workforce, but early results are definitely encouraging. After all, how many other law firms can claim that they have given work experience to someone who was homeless, or have one third of their employees working flexible hours?