City firms should focus their efforts on retaining and developing an ethnically diverse workforce, as well as making progress in recruitment, a network aimed at promoting diversity in the legal sector has said.

The suggestion comes in a best practice report published today by NOTICED, which includes five recommendations enabling law firms to show support for multiculturalism and diversity recruitment.

Firms should set ‘aspirational targets’ for recruitment and retention of employees from a BAME background, the report suggests. It does not say what these targets should be.

The guidance was launched yesterday at an event at the London office of international firm Hogan Lovells.

The report’s recommendations are based on initiatives including the government-backed Parker Review on ethnic diversity of UK boards and the McGregor-Smith Review, on race in the workplace. Although the requirements in these reports are not mandatory, the government has indicated it will review progress over the next year to consider whether legislation is required.

The steps law firms should consider are:

  • Adopting or developing robust and comprehensive strategies to gather data on BAME employees;
  • Continuing to evaluate their recruitment processes;
  • Developing an action plan to better understand whether retention of employees from a BAME background is an issue
  • Developing an action plan to counter attrition of employees from a BAME background to the extent that this is identified as an issue and;
  • Adopting aspirational targets in relation to the recruitment and retention of employees from a BAME background;

Siddhartha Shukla, co-chair of NOTICED and a senior associate at City firm Herbert Smith Freehills, said: ‘I am confident that our network has identified the key themes that law firms and other organisations in the UK would be open to considering and implementing. These recommendations should also help to reassure future candidates that diversity and inclusion are more than just buzzwords for law firms.’

Atrayee Basu, a member of the NOTICED steering committee and associate at Hogan Lovells, added: ‘This report represents an important step towards helping law firms to better understand the concerns of their BAME communities and to create a culture which is conducive to the success of everyone regardless of background.’

Other NOTICED members include Allen & Overy, Eversheds Sutherland and Baker McKenzie.