In 2015 we launched our Respect & Inclusion (R&I) action plan with our thought-provoking ‘Ask yourself…’ film. We have since put 6,000 of our most senior people through mandatory inclusive leadership workshops, created R&I Advisors so our people can voice any concerns to a trusted colleague, and continued to provide clear messaging that diversity is simply not possible without inclusion.
We have always been clear that getting the culture right provides the foundation for our targeted activities. We have seen good progress on our actions to increase gender balance in the firm and in Autumn 2016 we turned our attention to ethnicity - both in response to the Parker Review and McGregor Smith Review, but more importantly in response to what our own people and data were telling us.
Targets and action
We carried out analysis of our engagement survey, attrition and exit data and crucially held focus groups, chaired by our Managing Partner for Talent, Emma Codd, to hear firsthand the experiences of our BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] people. Using this information, we launched our BAME action plan in July 2017, setting out clear steps to ensure we attract, retain and engage BAME talent.
We publicly set targets that by 2021, 10 per cent of our partners will be BAME, our executive group will have at least one BAME member, and each of our business leadership teams will include at least one BAME member. We also published our ethnicity pay gap in December 2017 as we believe that transparency on this issue is critical to driving progress.
Culture and the quest for change
To support our action plan, this year we formed our BAME Advisory Council – a group of ten representatives from across the business who provide direct feedback to our most senior leaders on our people’s experiences and help to shape our BAME initiatives.
We're also piloting a reverse mentoring programme that pairs 24 junior BAME individuals with senior leaders across the firm. The programme encourages leaders to consider business issues from the perspective of more junior employees and provides an open forum for our people to share their views.
We have also analysed data to ensure that we are targeting schools and universities that have a higher volume of BAME students and have introduced multiple recruitment campaigns to ensure we attract people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
We know that meaningful change takes time and can only be achieved through a combination of targeted interventions and a constant focus on culture. While we are still in the early stages of embedding our BAME action plan, we've already seen positive results from our student recruitment data this year, with a 54 per cent rise in applications from BAME students.
Three years on from our first R&I leadership workshops, we're now rolling out follow-up sessions for all partners to ensure our leaders continue to lead in an inclusive and respectful way. We also continue to work on ways to ensure our messaging reaches all levels within our firm as everyone has a role to play in maintaining an inclusive environment.