Our focus is to foster diversity throughout the firm, from entry level to partnership. 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. An inclusive, forward-thinking culture also enables us to provide innovative solutions to our clients and we are working hard to develop a more inclusive and staff-responsive working environment.
Some of our current initiatives are:
Three staff-led networks were launched in May 2017 to provide opportunities for social interaction, peer support and personal development. A variety of partners co-chair these networks:
Balance: a forum for all staff managing careers and home lives, enabling discussion, support and the exchange of information and ideas, to achieve a balance of opportunity for all
LGBT: a forum for networking and peer support, open to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, to inform staff on LGBT action and to communicate information to colleagues interested in LGBT matters
BAME: a forum for networking and peer support between ethnic minority staff and allies, which enables the sharing and exchange of relevant information and ideas
Gender imbalance in senior roles
We appreciate that greater transparency about paths into senior roles is important and this area is being improved as part of a new career progression and sponsorship programme.
We are particularly focused on improving the retention and development of our female talent in all areas of the firm.
We are members of the 30% Club's Professional Services Firms' initiative (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.
The firm is also an active member of a number of other external networks including Network for Knowledge, Women in Private Equity and IFLR Women in Business Law Group.
We partner with Rare Recruitment to attract training contract and vacation scheme applications from young people from black and ethnic minority (BAME) communities. We provide skills, networking and careers sessions for Rare Recruitment candidates.
Macfarlanes was 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 actual 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.
Internally, an initiative to increase awareness of different cultural and religious practices was a suggestion following the Diversity Committee’s survey of ethnic minority solicitors. The firm now has a rolling programme of informative updates covering all the major cultural and religious events which is promoted firm wide.
We have adapted our recruitment processes to ensure that we recruit the best candidates regardless of their background. In addition to the Rare Recruitment contextual recruitment tool, we were one of the first law firms to ensure that the vast majority of our assessment processes for both our vacation schemes and training contracts are scored CV blind. This means that part of a candidate’s assessment is based on their actual performance on the day, which we believe promotes greater fairness. In 2016, the firm joined Aspiring Solicitors which better enables us to reach students from a variety of backgrounds across a broad spread of universities.
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.