On 5 December the Law Society hosted its inaugural Inclusion through diversity celebration event to acknowledge and celebrate the positive changes we are seeing in the profession and in how it supports its people. With over 90 people attending, the audience included Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) professionals, members, volunteers and Law Society staff network representatives.
The event was opened by Joe Egan, president of the Law Society. In his welcome he commented 'Today was an excellent platform to celebrate diversity and inclusion' and that ‘at the heart of the celebratory event was the bringing together of internal and external stakeholders who have a key role in helping the Law Society in its commitment to promote and support a more diverse and inclusive profession’.
Presentations from the Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Lawyer Divisions and representatives from our Social Mobility Ambassador cohorts, focused on the inspiring work they have been doing with the Society.
From across all the divisions there was a recognition that real progress was being made – highlights included:
- the increase in BAME Council members
- more targeted support for disabled candidates through mentoring schemes and workshops
- successful LGBT networking events and LGBT month panels
- the popular Returners course for men and women and the annual Fiona Woolf lecture.
Find out more about the Law Society D&I divisions
Social mobility is embedded in all our work and personified through the social mobility ambassadors programme.
Mehran Behvandi, social mobility ambassador, who entered the profession from a non-traditional background, talked about the important of 'never discounting yourself and tapping into your potential'.
Find out more about the social mobility programme
Closing the event
To close the event, Paul Tennant, chief executive, spoke of the role of D&I in making the profession dynamic and strong. The Law Society was committed to a new strategic approach which would be evidence led and utilise the expertise of its internal and external stakeholders to deliver activities and products for the profession. Whilst acknowledging there was still work to be done, Paul Tennant echoing the words of the president stated 'we needed to continue to build on the progress made'.
Following the formal sessions, guests enjoyed a drinks reception which gave them an opportunity to network. Evelyn Ofori Koree, vice chair of the EMLD, said of the event 'it was informative and was pleased with the turnout'. Richard McKenna from Inclusive Employers said it was 'thought-provoking, honest and balanced'.
Yasmin Sheik, vice chair of Lawyers with Disabilities Division, voiced her concern that 'the event was preaching to the converted' and called for more case studies and life stories to change people’s perceptions.
Jane McDonald ended the event with a quote from Verna Myers, Harvard-trained lawyer, entrepreneur, author and cultural innovator, that reflected the tone and theme of the event, 'Diversity is being invited to the party - Inclusion is being asked to the dance'.