There continue to be high rates of attrition among BAME lawyers in the workplace, and there are multiple challenges around promotion and advancement. The SRA's 2017 report, Mapping advantages and disadvantages: Diversity in the legal profession in England and Wales, found that white males were the most likely to succeed to partnership, with the average probability being 73.5%; and that BAME females were the least likely to make partnership, with the average probability being only 13%.
At InterLaw Diversity Forum, we are keen to directly address challenges and to provide practical and impactful solutions to help open the doors to early-careers talent, and to help maintain steady career traction for those diverse lawyers already in the pipeline. The SRA research echoes InterLaw Diversity Forum's own research, The Career Progression Report, which was conducted in 2012. InterLaw Diversity Forum will be releasing a new Career Progression Report for the legal sector later in 2018.
Our “Advancing Your Career” interactive workshop provided an opportunity to directly address some of the workplace challenges faced by BAME lawyers and other legal-sector employees. We called upon the expertise of senior recruiters from varied backgrounds to share their experiences of working with diverse lawyers whilst also providing practical solutions on career advancement to a mix of paralegals, trainees, associates and senior associates, as well as mid-level managers from non-legal backgrounds.
Hult International Business School
DAC Beachcroft LLP
Berwin Leighton Paisner
Slaughter & May
Allen & Overy
Womble Bond Dickinson
Wellers Law Group
Chambers and Partners
Currently unemployed and actively seeking work.
Our experts included Cynthia Davies, CEO of BAME Recruitment; Neel Mehta, Principal Legal Consultant from Hays; and Mariyam Hassan, Head of Wellbeing and Benefits at Shearman and Sterling. The session was moderated by Daniel Winterfeldt, Founder and Chair of InterLaw Diversity Forum and Partner at Reed Smith; and by Dee Sekar, Deputy Chair of InterLaw Diversity Forum and Corporate Responsibility Manger at Gowling WLG.
The experts worked with the delegates in discussing the following challenges:
1. Personal branding/showcasing your value - how to market yourself and standout positively
2. Mentoring - how to approach and secure a mentor
3. Working in challenging environments - how to deal with difficult situations
The key findings were that being outstanding in your job was the best foundation in establishing your worth and cementing your value to an organisation. Job excellence also helps minimise chances of being overlooked for work, supports your case for promotion, and reduces the likelihood of finding yourself in difficult positions with line managers, all of which were found to be common issues among our attendees. Some attendees shared the view that being only ‘as good’ as another non-diverse employee was not enough to avoid challenging situations in the workplace. They felt they needed to work much harder, and often for less pay, to avoid conflicts with managers.
Attendees agreed that raising their profile both internally and externally could help enhance their personal branding. Some discussed setting up their own employee networks if one did not already exist in their organisation and, if that was not feasible, to dedicate set times for external networking events as well as for speaking opportunities.
After the session:
100% of attendees stated that they had benefited from gaining practical skills in the workplace and felt the session helped extend their professional contacts and networks.
To book your place on our next session, How to be an effective BAME ally, please register HERE.