Allen & Overy, Slaughter & May Among 17 City Firms Signing up to The Race Fairness Commitment

Seventeen major city law firms including Allen & Overy, Pinsent Masons and Slaughter & May have joined forces to conduct a data-driven investigation with the aim of finding out where BAME lawyers are falling behind their white peer group.

Seventeen major city law firms including Allen & Overy, Pinsent Masons and Slaughter & May have joined forces to conduct a data-driven investigation with the aim of finding out where BAME lawyers are falling behind their white peer group.

Known as the Race Fairness Commitment and conducted in partnership with diversity recruitment specialist Rare.  The report is hoping to identify areas that can be addressed to ensure black, Asian and ethnic minority lawyers can operate on a level playing field with their white counterparts.  The pledge will analyse several key areas that need addressing including:

  • Interviews and job offer rates
  • Retention rates
  • Pay grades
  • Promotion rates

This data will then be used to ‘identify and attack’ imbalanced career obstacles historically faced by BAME staff.

Each firm that has signed up to the initiative will also discuss racism in every single lawyer induction and exit interview.  Staff at the firms can also count on regular yearly reviews to ascertain whether they feel they can ‘be themselves’ at work or are suffering from any form of discrimination.

For the newer lawyers, such as junior ethnic minority employees, they will now be assigned a senior manager to foster a culture of sponsorship, mentoring and reverse mentoring programmes.

This report and pledge has arisen following damning research by Rare, which reports that many BAME lawyers do not find the law firms they work out to have inclusive cultures and as a result, black, Asian and ethnic minority lawyers are spending 20% less time at firms than their white colleagues on average before leaving.

The full list of law firms who have signed The Race Fairness Commitment are:

Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, DWF, Dentons, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pinsent Masons, RPC, Slaughter and May, Travers Smith and White & Case.

Clifford Chance, one of the firms who have signed up, released a statement from one of their senior associates and Rare alumnus, Roy Appiah, who said: ‘Clifford Chance is undoubtedly a great place to work and I am very fortunate and privileged to do so. However, as a black or ethnic minority lawyer, you are never too far away from reminders that the firm, and the industry, were not designed for people like you to rise to the top.

‘These reminders come in many forms, like having your security pass checked twice to enter work, or being invited to training about what leadership looks like where none of the dozen speakers look like you.’

The pledge which is now in place will hope that firms like Clifford Chance along with the rest of the co-signatories can reverse the struggle for BAME lawyers to find their feet in the City.

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