Promoting race inclusivity in the workplace: a toolkit for organisations
In 1990, there were 709 solicitors who identified within the BAME group. In 2019, this number increased to 20,675.
While some progress has been achieved in improving ethnic diversity overall, there is still a long way to go to build a profession that is inclusive.
As our Race for Inclusion research found not feeling equally valued, respected and included in the workplace is a reason why there are ethnicity stay gaps and pay and progression gaps, especially in the largest firms.
Practical tips on getting started
Race Equality Week is an annual UK-wide movement uniting thousands of organisations and individuals to address the barriers to race equality in the workplace.
The commitment to racial inclusion requires actions. Below is a list of initiatives that you can support today that encourages immediate action towards Race Inclusion.
The Law Society Diversity Access Scheme
The Diversity Access Scheme (the DAS) is a scholarship set up to recognise the educational, social and financial disadvantages in society. It prioritises support to those individuals who have not had the advantage of others but have nonetheless demonstrated ability and commitment to a career in law.
Who benefits from the DAS?
The intersection between race and social mobility means that Black, Asian Minority groups are supported through the DAS. 44% of DAS awardees are from Black, Asian Minority groups.
What do students get when they become a DAS awardee:
- Provides full scholarships to enable students to complete their LPC or SQE
- Helps them to gain relevant work experience
- Introduces them to solicitor mentors who provide invaluable, early advice on shaping their career path
How you can get involved with DAS?
- You can support DAS through sponsoring a full or partial LPC or SQE place
- Offer work experience to a DAS awardee
- Sign up to become a Diversity Access mentor
10,000 Black Interns
10,000 Black Interns is an initiative to provide 10,000 paid internships to black students over the next five years across 24 different sectors/professions.
The 10,000 Black Interns programme offers aspiring Black professionals a six-week paid internship. In 2022 there were over 100 legal internships available. This opportunity will offer an aspiring lawyer the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge and training of the legal sector.
Signing up to 10,000 Black interns gives your organisation access to a pool of Black talent as well as offers support on how to effectively offer a legal internship.
Updating your existing policies
The Halo Code, the UK’s first Black Hair Code, protecting the rights of staff who come to work with natural hair and hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic and cultural identities. Race-based hair discrimination is illegal under the Equalities Act 2010. Workplaces have the right to enforce a dress code as long as it is fair and does not unduly discriminate against any employees.
Policies and practices that prohibit hairstyles which are primarily used to maintain Afro-textured hair can lead to indirect discrimination. The Halo Code focuses on hair textures and styles most commonly associated with the Black community who as a result of their ancestry have Afro-textured hair.
To find out more about the Halo code and how you can implement the code at your organisation, visit the Halo Code website.
It’s vital that you openly and visibly welcome diversity.
Using inclusive language, imagery and ensuring your commitment to diversity and inclusion is obvious will help you attract a larger, more varied talent pool.
Auditing your current job adverts is one of the best ways to start your journey to recruiting diverse talent.
Speak to your current recruitment agencies about diversity targets and how they ensure diverse shortlists.
Expand your outreach, visit a range of universities and branch outside of the magic circle and largest firms when seeking lateral hires.
Diversity during the interview process brings unique perspectives to the dialogue between interviewers and interviewee.
Including Black, Asian and minority ethnic group employees on your interview panel can help candidates feel more comfortable and sends a message to prospective employees.
Diversity data will help you identify areas where you need to do more to attract and retain a diverse workforce.
You can also benchmark these figures against the wider labour market to get an idea of how representative your workforce is.
Target setting can be a good way to focus attention, keep organisations accountable and monitor progress.
How to set targets:
- use the data to inform the targets you’re setting – for example, if data shows you a low proportion of Black men are recruited at associate level, this finding should be the basis of your target
- have a clear, overall goal for targets to work
- monitor the targets regularly to see if change is being made
Examples of initiatives and actions that work for similar organisations can help guide your target setting.
Below is a list of case studies of firms and organisations who have announced their target setting goals.
Allen & Overy
In July 2020, Allen & Overy announced a raft of targets for its London business aimed at achieving greater ethnic diversity at every level of the firm.
The targets are:
- 15% ethnic minority partners by 2025
- 25% ethnic minority lawyers and support staff by 2025
- 35% ethnic minority trainees, including 10% Black trainees, each year
- equalised retention rates for trainee lawyers, in particular retaining more Black associates
The firm used data collected internally to identify the challenges and set targets that are measurable.
The firm A&O’s ethnicity Stay Gap analysis, carried out by Pirical, found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic lawyers left the firm seven months earlier than their White colleagues and that Black lawyers leave two years and five months earlier than their White counterparts.
The firm has committed to publishing its updated ethnicity Stay Gap every year.
Target setting should have a clear aim that can be achieved within a specific time frame.
Linklaters announced its target setting goals starting from its 2020/2021 recruitment cycle.
The targets are:
- 35% ethnic minority trainees in the UK, including 10% Black trainees, each year
- 15% Black and minority ethnic group representation at partnership level
In order for the firm to monitor the targets, it has formed a Black Diversity Council to hold the firm to account on progress, train staff on anti-racism over the next 12 months and hold all partners and directors accountable for ethnic diversity in their practices and teams.
Mentoring is a constructive, cost-effective way to invest in the development of your employees, while allowing positive relationships to form between colleagues and improving inclusion in tandem.
Due to many variables, including unconscious and conscious biases, ethnic minority employees may not receive the same organic and informal support as their White colleagues. It’s up to an organisation to formalise mentoring and ensure mentoring opportunities are afforded equally.
Benefits of mentoring for employees include:
- improving communications and interpersonal skills
- building personal and professional confidence
- establishing goals and understanding how to achieve them
- learning from experience and gaining invaluable insights
- becoming more empowered and fulfilled
- active contribution to an inclusive culture
When pairing mentors and mentees, it’s useful to consider how the relationship can be mutually beneficial.
Reverse mentoring is just as important and a great way to build inclusion as it gives senior leaders insights into the experiences and perspectives of under-represented groups in the workplace.
Staff networks can be an important source of peer support and can provide a safe space and sense of belonging for people who are usually in the minority in the work environment.
They can also give an organisation valuable insights, which can be used to help shape a more inclusive working environment.
Tips for getting a staff network started:
- plainly set out the purpose and aims of the network before it’s launched
- be clear in your advertising that the network is staff led and each member will have a valued role in contributing to the work of the network
- invite staff of all levels of seniority to participate and from all areas of the business
- plan in frequent meetings with agendas to keep members engaged
Inclusion partners across Addleshaw Goddard’s ethnicity work stream have worked with other partners and the HR team to look at how they can build a network for Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and establish initiatives with meaningful outcomes.
- The firm knows which employees are interested in deepening their involvement with diversity initiatives
- There is a more open culture in terms of sponsorship and support
- Feedback has been excellent from both internal and external events
- Completion of an internal diversity audit has increased in terms of self-declaration
Being an ally means actively working against discrimination and inequality, helping to raise awareness of issues and challenges, taking accountability and amplifying the voices of minority groups.
The role of an ally includes:
- educating yourself on the inequalities and obstacles faced by minority communities
- listening without judgement to different perspectives and experiences
- actively advocating for change for marginalised groups within your workplace, and in wider society
- sharing development opportunities with others and/or creating these opportunities (for example, mentoring or sponsoring colleagues)
- reflecting on your biases and how they may influence you
- offering the advantages of your privilege to others
- accepting your mistakes and learning from them
Dates like Black History Month, Race Equality Week or South Asian Heritage Month, as well as different religious or cultural festivals can be an opportunity to share information and learn about different perspectives and histories.
Sharing resources on internal hubs
These resources could be guidance on particular issues, signposting to external support or learning resources.
For example, an explanation of Black History Month and information about the contribution Black people have made to the profession.
Organising internal and external events
Suggestions for events could include:
- panel sessions – organise an event bringing together a panel of ethnically diverse speakers. The topics could range from success stories and getting into leadership roles to intersectionality
- diversity workshops – ideas might include ‘let’s talk about race’
- guest speaker spotlights – invite an ethnic minority guest speaker from the legal or non-legal sector to talk about their career
- Black History Month (BHM) quiz – raise money for a race equality charity by hosting a social quiz
- intersectional events – listen to and engage with the experiences of those with more than one minority identity
- food celebrations – invite staff to bring in dishes from their culture, for example hosting a Caribbean or Indian lunch
- religious and cultural festivals – recognise and celebrate festivals such as Diwali and Eid
- book club – this could focus on work by Black, Asian and minority ethnic authors