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Lewis Silkin LLP

Diversity Monitoring

Regular diversity monitoring helps us determine the degree of progress we are making towards achieving our equality and diversity objectives and allows us to revise our diversity strategy and action plan accordingly. To ensure that we are able to review and maintain our progress against our policy, industry data, and year on year results, we carry out an annual diversity survey. Our most recent results show that in many cases we are comparable to the legal sector.

You can view our full diversity statistics for 2015 here.

Some of the highlights from our 2015 are included below:

  • 37% of our Partners are female
  • 7% of our workforce have declared themselves as either Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual
  • 6.5% of staff have declared themselves as disabled
  • Over 70% of staff studied at a UK state school
  • Over 40% of staff were the first generation to attend university

What have we been up to in the last 12 months?

Some recent initiatives we have been working on include the following:

PRIME scheme - We became a member of the PRIME scheme in summer 2012. By signing up to PRIME, we are committed to provide work experience placements for students from less advantaged backgrounds to enable them to find out about the legal profession and the different career paths available to them.

In July 2013, we facilitated the PRIME work experience scheme through SpearHead a charity/recruitment agency who specialise in assisting young people, between the ages of 16 and 24, who are not in full-time education or employment to get into the work environment.

Working in collaboration with SpearHead, we provided work experience for five students in various departments and gave them opportunities to network with people across the firm.. Following the end of the work experience programme we were able to offer one candidates a paid position in one of our fee-earning departments through a competitive interview process.

Diversity and Inclusion Charter – We are a member of the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter and contribute to their annual diversity report in order to help us identify areas of shared challenge and disseminate examples of good practice. It also gives us an indication of how well we are achieving relation to areas such as leadership and vision, employment, staff development and policy making. This year we are pleased to report that in five out of the eight leadership goals, we achieved best practice accreditation.

Working Parents group – The Firm participates in the Times 100 Best Companies Survey each year. Following on from last year’s feedback, we realised that there was a need to form a working parents forum. The aim of the group is to identify the main challenges are for working parents (both mothers and fathers), and to discuss ways in which the firm could support them further.

Memberships

In addition to being a member of organisations such as Stonewall, Prime & the Diversity & Inclusion Charter, we have also been a longstanding member of the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei). The enei in the UK’s leading employer network covering all aspects of equality and inclusion issues in the workplace. In addition to supporting employers, they influence government, business and trade unions, campaigning for practical change.

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Gay lawyers and the quiet revolution you haven’t even heard of

Few people outside the legal profession might be aware of the profound cultural shift which has taken place over the past 15 years or more behind those marble-clad lobbies, closed wooden doors and incongruous glass walls of British law firms.

During that time, leading UK law firms have gradually come to realise that providing their staff with an inclusive environment, in which all employees are respected for who they are, and treated with equal dignity (regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc), means that those employees will, in turn, be happier, more loyal and more productive.

Often perceived as bastions of archaic traditions (in fairness, who else sprinkles their conversations with Latin phrases nowadays…?!), it might be surprising to learn that, when compared to other big businesses, solicitors’ firms can almost be said to have blazed a trail in the quest for equal treatment of LGB employees. And I’m talking here about suited and booted, straight-laced solicitors (rather than barristers, who’ve been proudly going to work in wigs and gowns since long before the days of Lily Savage…)

Even the largest and most ‘traditional’ firms of solicitors have now come to accept that allowing their gay lawyers to be open about their lives and relationships hasn’t turned the world upside down, or tarnished the reputation of their firm, or put off any prospective or current clients. On the contrary, most clients are reassured to know (some even actively demand) that their law firm provides equal opportunities and a supportive environment for all its staff, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, etc.

We have now reached an era where firms are clambering over one another to be recognised as advocates of equal rights and opportunities, and to be ranked by Stonewall in its annual Workplace Equality Index.

The Stonewall’s index is Stonewall’s own yardstick by which companies of all kinds are measured and ranked for the ‘gay friendliness’ of their policies, activities and culture. 

Unfortunately, some companies treat this merely as a ‘box-ticking’ exercise; an opportunity to tinker with never-read employment handbooks and policies, without seizing the opportunity to improve the day to day culture of the firm.

Given Stonewall’s arguably prescriptive and quite dogmatic style, a cynic might suggest that companies and law firms which treat equality as a box-ticking exercise (without making any real efforts to bring about any meaningful cultural change), are actually ranked more generously than companies and law firms (such as mine) which have concentrated their limited resources on ensuring they provide a diverse, inclusive, open and nurturing environment for all their staff – including, but not limited to, LGB staff.

However, the good news is that a significant number of law firms have genuinely achieved positive cultural change, including the firms where it was most needed. These changes have not only resulted in a better quality of life for current and future LGB employees and their families, but they have also brought abundant, immeasurable benefits to the firm itself, its managers and partners, and even to the their current and future clients.

Of course, the changes taking place in law firms are partly just a reflection of the changes which have been going on across the country, and across most of western society, during the past 15 years or more. Understandably therefore, as a society, our focus has recently shifted to countries where the same values are not shared, such as Russia and Nigeria. In Russia for example, injustices are not only carried out by thugs in the streets, who are able to brazenly inflict injury and humiliation without consequence, but injustices are also being enshrined into law – supported and driven by politicians, lawyers and officials.

With so many wrongs seemingly being ‘made right’ in our own country, and with so much patent injustice going on elsewhere, the quiet revolution which has been taking place inside the legal profession in Britain could easily pass by unnoticed and unrecorded.
But that would be a shame.

Why? Because the changes taking place in law firms are important not just for lawyers, but for society as a whole. We can quite confidently say that, in Britain at least, positive social change isn’t happening despite lawyers, or without lawyers, it is happening to lawyers, and, in part, thanks to lawyers.

Not everyone will agree with that statement, of course. But I believe it is vitally important that the message gets out to anyone who is interested in the law, and interested in fighting for and protecting the rights of others: There is a place for you in the legal profession, regardless of your gender, age, race or sexual orientation.

And, whilst the changing culture of law firms might not be as ‘newsworthy’ as the latest announcement that yet another one hit wonder from the 90s has ‘come out of the closet’ before they step into the Big Brother house or celebrity jungle, I still think it warrants a mention!

So let’s keep looking on the bright side… it’s obviously not just lawyers who are making progress. Progress is all around us. If you listen carefully, through the white-noise of vacuous Z-list celebs, ‘scripted-reality’ TV shows, and videos about cats doing funny things, you’ll hear ordinary people championing all sorts of worthy causes.

And we can all play a part in supporting anyone with a just cause, who wants to live their life with dignity, honesty and integrity, free from oppression and injustice, whether straight or gay, man or woman, Olympian or referee, pop star or politician, Archbishop or atheist, lawyer or protester, and everyone in between. We can all play a part in ensuring everyone is allowed to speak their mind freely, live their life openly, and be a proud ambassador for whichever cause they believe in – whether or not we agree with what they have to say. Vive la différence.

 

 

Geraint Lloyd-Taylor is a Senior Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP

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Lewis Silkin is a commercial law firm with offices in the City of London, Cardiff, Oxford and Hong Kong with particular expertise in Real Estate, Litigation, Employment & Incentives; Media, Brands & Technology; and Corporate & Commercial.  We are large enough to handle major projects and transactions whilst remaining of a size that ensures that the work we do for clients will be treated with the priority and importance they expect and deserve.  We believe we offer excellent service and value for money provided by our lawyers who are friendly, experienced and commercial working across our specialist disciplines to provide a seamless service to clients.

 

With around 300 staff, 206 lawyers and 58 partners we advise across 12 sectors and 18 service lines.  60% of our partners are ranked in the leading legal directories Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.

 

The firm has a friendly style and our clients find us refreshingly easy to deal with.  What distinguishes us is a matter of personality.  As lawyers, we are notably informal, unstuffy...well human really.  We're people people: as committed and professional as any good law firm but perhaps more adept at the inter-personal skills that make relationships work and go on working.  

 

The firm is a member of two global alliances - Ius Laboris, the global alliance of employment law specialist firms and GALA, the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance.


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As an employer we place an unusually high emphasis on workplace engagement; for eight years running the firm has been listed in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For listing, one of only a handful of law firms to make that index.


We are committed to valuing and promoting diversity in all areas of employment and service delivery, and support current initiatives to increase diversity and social mobility in the legal profession.

Lewis Silkin is always interested in hearing from talented lawyers and professional support staff.

 


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Lewis Silkin LLP -

Reviews

2016.02.15
Anonymous

The work environment is amazing! I never had a single problem showing who I really am and I felt the support of managers and colleagues. I enjoyed my time working with them. Modern and refreshing work ethics.

2016.01.29

At Lewis Silkin, we’re committed to diversity and recognise the benefits of a diverse workforce. We are very excited to be one of the first law firms to partner with myGwork. We are always interested in hearing from talented people and myGwork’s platform allows us greater online reach in this increasingly connected world. With myGwork’s support, we will continue to promote diversity throughout our firm and support initiatives to increase diversity and social mobility in the legal profession. Alan Hunt

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