Seventeen City firms have agreed to conduct a data-drive to find out where black, Asian and minority ethnic lawyers are falling behind their white peer group.

Firms including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Pinsent Masons have signed up to a Race Fairness Commitment, in partnership with diversity recruitment specialist Rare. As part of the pledge, practises will analyse their interview and offer rates; retention rates; and pay and promotion rates to 'identify and attack' unfair career obstacles faced by BAME staff. This data will be published where appropriate.

Firms have also pledged to talk about racism in every induction and exit interview and staff will be asked at least once a year whether they can 'be themselves' at work. Meanwhile, junior ethnic minority employees will have access to a senior manager, with a view to creating sponsorship, mentoring and reverse mentoring programmes.

According to research by Rare, many BAME lawyer do not find their firms’ cultures inclusive and, on average, BAME lawyers spend 20% less time at firms than their white colleagues before leaving.

Roy Appiah, senior associate at Clifford Chance and Rare alumnus, said: ‘Clifford Chance is undoubtedly a great place to work and I am very fortunate and privileged to do so. However, as a black or ethnic minority lawyer, you are never too far away from reminders that the firm, and the industry, were not designed for people like you to rise to the top.

‘These reminders come in many forms, like having your security pass checked twice to enter work, or being invited to training about what leadership looks like where none of the dozen speakers look like you.’

The Race Fairness Commitment has been signed by: Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, DWF, Dentons, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pinsent Masons, RPC, Slaughter and May, Travers Smith and White & Case.