We have spent time in this first quarter of 2018 collating our diversity statistics for Totum activity through 2017 (see our infographic below). The data details information given by candidates who signed up with Totum from January 1st to December 31st 2017, on areas including ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation and disability.

In keeping with most UK businesses, we feel that more can always be done to promote diversity. Perhaps this is especially the case in a traditional sector like law, which all too often comes with a perception of favouring white British men. At Totum, however, our focus on business services in law seems to show a largely positive picture – albeit with areas that require focus for improvement.

Key findings

 

We are particularly pleased, for instance, that our statistics show a relatively even gender split, if not slightly weighted towards women at 56% female candidates to 44% male. This is also reflected in our personal experience both at application and placement stage. Since we made our first placements into business services functions in law over 20 years ago, we have seen a steady rise in the number of women at all levels of seniority and across all business services functions. It has been a pleasure to see so many talented women making such an impact on the growth and sophistication of business services in the legal profession.

The statistics for 2017 also show a good age range of candidates signing up with us. The majority are either 25-34 (38%) or 35-44 (28%), but a good number fall outside those age ranges too – 18% are 45-54 and 10%, 16-24. This reflects the variety of business services roles at all levels of seniority that we cover and fill through our business – candidates can find and progress through roles at every stage along the career ladder.

In terms of ethnicity, our statistics show that just under a third (28%) of our candidate population in 2017 identified as Asian/Asian British (16%), Black/Black British (6%) or Mixed/Multiple Ethic Groups (6%). This compares to 71% identifying themselves as White/White British. This compares favourably to national statistics, which show a UK-wide Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population of 13%, as recorded in the 2011 census. However, as this figure rises to 40% in London, we are also aware that we could do more in this area to ensure that our London candidates reflect the wide diversity of this population.

The figures for sexual orientation are also in keeping with national statistics – if not slightly surpassing them. According to national statistics, 2% of the UK population identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB), rising to 2.7 in London and 4% among younger people, aged 16-24. Our figures show that 6% of our candidates in 2017 identified as LGB. There is always more that can be done to improve inclusivity, but this may be a positive sign of the steps the legal profession has taken to support their LGBT communities. In Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2017, for instance, law firms made up half of the top ten list of the most LGBT-friendly employers. We are delighted to see signs that this work is now reaching candidates both within, and interested in joining, the sector – and look forward to further supporting these endeavours.

We are very aware that very few of our candidates in 2017 were disabled, the vast majority (98%) saying they had no disability and their day-to-day activities were not limited. There may have been a grey area here on the definition of disabled, as we had a small number say their day-to-day activities were limited but did not define themselves as disabled. But clearly this is an area we need to work on as 18% of the working age population are disabled and we know that disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. We will look into ways in which we can partner with our law firm clients to improve these figures, both in terms of the opportunities available to disabled people in law, as well as increasing awareness among our candidates that law is a sector that welcomes and supports disabled employees.

Looking forwards

 

We know that there is more work to do to improve the perception of law as a truly diverse and inclusive sector – and that means that we need to focus on increasing awareness among our candidate population of what law firms can offer as well as to always ensure our doors are open to as diverse a candidate population as possible. These figures help us to see where we need to focus in the coming months, but also where we are taking the right steps to improve diversity and inclusion, both within our own business, and in law more broadly. 

There remain challenges for us and the broader legal community. More needs to be done to attract and retain talented women and BAME employees, particularly at more senior levels in law – and our own statistics show we need to improve awareness among disabled candidates in the opportunities law can offer.

But we have had the pleasure in working with a hugely diverse range of talent in the business services community in law – with new candidates, with different backgrounds, experiences and skills, coming in all the time. We are delighted to be part of this process of change that is impacting law for the better, and we look forward to further promoting a diverse and inclusive future.

The statistics

 

Click here, or on the image above to view a full PDF of all our diversity statistics for 2017

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