As I look to secure a training contract, I notice that all the firms I look at say they are committed to equality and diversity. How would you recommend I go about testing which really mean it?
Faith Kelly, principal consultant, Sellick Partnership says…
Personally, I think it can be very difficult to get a totally accurate view of how diverse firms are without asking them directly. The bigger, more prominent firms will usually have EDI policies and initiatives on their website, but this isn’t the case for all legal firms. It is therefore important to not discard a firm simply because they do not have the best, most up-to-date website. I work with a number of legal firms that are very diverse, and have some great policies in place, but do not necessarily promote them as well as they could, so candidates could miss out on some great vacancies if they simple rely on who is being recognised for diversity.
If you do want to look for firms that you 100% know are committed to diversity there are annual lists that are created by the likes of Stonewall and The Lawyer that will rank firms against each other based on how diverse they are. This might be a good place to start your search. These lists range from top LGBT+ firms through to the best firms for female lawyers. Again, these shouldn’t be used as your only source as being listed on these is usually dependant on the firm having a marketing team, or someone to enter them as they will have a rigorous submission process in order to be recognised.
These firms will also be some of the most competitive to get into, so I would also advise you to do some background research into other firms that may not appear on these lists that you might be interested in. Look on LinkedIn at the current senior management team, speak with legal professionals at networking events, look on websites such as The Law Society for recommendations and take note of gender pay gap reporting. These will all give you a good indication of how diverse a firm might be from the outset.
It is then important to find out as much as possible about a company throughout the interview process. Ask questions about their values and whether they have any EDI policies in place. It might also be worthwhile to ask specific questions that you are passionate about. You might want to know about maternity/paternity provisions for example. Think about why you want to work for a firm committed to diversity and come up with questions that will give you the answers you are looking for.
I hope this helps, and that you find a firm that suits your needs. The legal sector is becoming more and more diverse by the day, and there are so many great firms across the UK that I know will look after you and allow you to build a long and healthy career.