Diversity and inclusion (D&I) has become a major issue in these recent months, highlighted by Covid and the widespread Black Lives Matter protests of earlier in the year. Many law firms are prioritising D&I for 2021 including a strong focus on ethnic diversity – but this remains a tricky issue to navigate with many firms struggling to translate talk into action.

Reflecting our own commitment to diversity in professional services recruitment, we were delighted, therefore, to host a webinar recently on ‘How to create the most diverse company in Britain’, inviting law firms to hear from experts in diversity and share views on successes and challenges in this important area.

Robert Beckford PhD, an academic, broadcaster and consultant provided a highly informative presentation (see slides) to kick off the discussion. Currently Professor of Theology at the Queen’s Ecumenical Foundation, he is best known as a broadcaster. Robert has consulted on issues of racial justice with a range of clients including Ernst and Young, Cadbury and many areas of the National Police Force including the Black Police Association.

He started the session with a short but detailed presentation on current thinking around race and diversity in UK organisations. Given that 40 per cent of people in London come from the black, Asian and minority ethnic population (14 per cent elsewhere), this is a huge source of talent that is wasted. Unlocking this potential should be a key motivator for improvements in diversity policies/action.

He then outlined a five-point plan of action covering the following areas:

  1. Data collection – ensuring companies collect and interpret accurate diversity data
  2. Accountability – embedding diversity as a key performance indicator and ensuring management buy in/accountability
  3. Support progression – ensuring everyone understands the ways in which to progress their careers
  4. Recruitment – examining practices, challenging educational bias and rejecting non-diverse shortlists
  5. Conscientization – making thought actionable

These ideas then become the basis of a discussion, which was joined by our esteemed panellists: Susan Bright, Hogan Lovells - Global Managing Partner for D&I; Jonny Briggs, Aviva, - Group Head, Talent Acquisition & D&I; and Shuabe Shabudin, Pinsent Masons – Associate Employment Team.

Their experiences of implementing diversity policies in their organisations were fascinating and useful, with Jonny Briggs providing helpful insights on data collection and Susan Bright highlighting some of the challenges and approaches to managing diversity across global operations of many different cultures. Shuabe Shabudin added an interesting perspective on ‘belonging’ while emphasising the importance of encouraging open discussion – where people are not afraid to ask difficult questions.

Altogether it was an enlightening hour, which gave attendees both ideas and practical strategies to take back to their firms. We are hugely grateful to our fantastic panelists for their time and effort, as well as our attendees for joining us to discuss this essential topic.

Totum Event: How to create the most diverse firm in Britain

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

12:32 pm  |  GMT Time (London, GMT)


Play recording (58 min)

Recording password: RuBpPpt9


We still have plenty more to discuss on D&I so please stay tuned for our next event in 2021!

Visit our Community page on the Totum website to find out more about diversity initiatives at Totum,
including our Race Fairness Commitment.

If you have any questions regarding this or any future Totum event, please contact Sarah at [email protected].


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