Slaughter and May commits to new measures to improve the career prospects of BAME lawyers
The Race Fairness Commitment (RFC) mandates exacting data-driven techniques to identify challenges for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees.
Leading International law firm Slaughter and May has announced its commitment to a range of measures on race designed to improve the career prospects of Black, Asian and ethnic minority employees within the firm.
Measures committed to, as part of the RFC, include analysis of quantitative data and monitoring throughout the careers of BAME employees, in order to identify and address the points at which there may be point of divergence in their career path compared to peers.
Other measures include ensuring that junior ethnic minority employees have access to, and sponsorship from, senior management - and that race and racism are talked about in every induction and exit interview.
Ngozie Azu, Head of International Relations at the firm, explains the importance of the charter: “I’ve been at Slaughter and May for more than 10 years and I’ve been fortunate to have a number of senior ‘sponsors’ who have supported me along the way with advice and mentorship. There’s always been a focus on the stats, on outreach and improving our recruitment processes, which is great. But, what’s changed in the last few months – and what this Commitment will institutionalise – is that the focus has shifted to the more personal stories, the human element.
“How does it actually feel to be black in a firm like this? There will always be areas of differences such as my unusual name, my hair and how I spend my leisure time. The challenge for firms is to ensure that they are creating an environment in which everyone can bring their most authentic selves to work without fear that our differences will mark us out or impact our ability to succeed.”
Slaughter and May has made this commitment through collaboration with Rare, the diversity recruitment specialist which the firm has worked with for the past 14 years. The pledge comes alongside a number of other commitments from the firm, including the signing of an open letter published in The Sunday Times, acknowledging the lack of progress and pledging to do more to foster BAME talent across the firm.
Steve Cooke, Senior Partner of Slaughter and May, says: “Fairness and inclusion are at the heart of our firm’s approach. This charter brings together principles which we believe will bring about much needed change at a time where there is rightly renewed and concerted attention towards BAME inequality, in and out of the workplace. We recognise that as a firm, and as a sector, we still have a great deal of work to do in this area and I hope that our commitment to this charter demonstrates our pledge to do more to develop BAME talent within the legal profession."
Raph Mokades, Founder and Managing Director of Rare Recruitment says, “Slaughter and May was the first law firm to work with Rare all the way back in 2006. Multiple ex Slaughter and May people have worked at Rare, and an ex Slaughter and May partner sits on our Board. The bond between us and the firm is strong. Their commitment to race equality is clear. And yet, we’ve only been partially successful. While the training pool is diverse, the number of Black and minority ethnic lawyers dwindles rapidly as you go up the firm, and just like its competitors, Slaughter and May has not cracked the issue of retaining ethnically diverse talent. The intense focus this issue is now getting at the firm, coupled with the really tough measures being adopted, makes me hopeful that this will start to change. Soon.”
Further details about the RFC and its associated measures can be viewed at racefairnesscommitment.com.