Current areas of focus include:
Gender imbalance in senior roles
As we work towards our 2026 and 2030 partnership targets for gender and ethnicity, we created a Legal Women’s Network in response to feedback from female fee earners; the firm aims to encourage more support and opportunity to reflect on their career progression.
In 2020 we launched the Female Lawyers Forum – a bespoke career progression programme. One of the most helpful elements of the programme was the opportunity to network with other female fee earners across the firm. The Legal Women’s Network will continue to build strong working relationships with women across the firm, while also allowing the firm to gain a female perspective when thinking about the working environment.
We have also been members of the 30% Club's Professional Services Firms' initiative for a number of years (the 30% Club was established with the aim of having 30% women on every FTSE-100 board). This initiative assesses the specific challenges for professional services firms and is devising new collaborative actions to accelerate progress across the profession. All four year PQE female associates and business services’ managers across the firm are able to participate as mentees and some of our partners and heads of business services participate as mentors in the annual cross company mentoring scheme.
We encourage an environment where the culture and ethnicity of every person can be celebrated, enabling them to flourish and thrive.
We work with a number of organisations to ensure that we are recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates; this includes working closely with organisations such as Rare Recruitment and Bright Network to attract training contract and vacation scheme applications from young people from black and ethnic minority (BME) communities.
Macfarlanes was also one of the first signatories to Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment System which enables us to understand the context of a candidate’s experiences and qualifications. This is a helpful tool because it shows a candidate’s A-Level grades against the average for their school, as well as other social mobility factors, thereby helping to level the playing field between candidates from different backgrounds.
During 2020 we ran a successful BME reverse mentoring programme with a focus on race and ethnicity facilitated by Afua Hirsch. Senior members of the firm were paired with reverse mentors from ethnic minority backgrounds, who shared their experiences and helped our senior leaders gain new insights.
One of our partners, Jat Bains, won the Investing in Ethnicity Workplace Hero award. Jat was recognised as a dedicated member of the firm’s Diversity Committee, the Trainee Solicitor Committee and a partner champion of the REACH staff network. Macfarlanes was also named as a top 10 outstanding employer for investing in ethnicity.
Legal CORE (Collaboration on Race and Ethnicity), is an initiative launched by Macfarlanes and seven other law firms to help tackle race and ethnicity challenges within the legal sector. The aim of Legal CORE is to increase the representation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) individuals in private practice by focusing on the retention and promotion of ethnically diverse talent.
It is about recruiting, retaining and promoting all groups in the firm fairly, and we have spent a lot of time reviewing our processes to ensure that everyone has the same chance to develop and advance.