Diversity is the new black: Why diversity is fast overtaking commercial awareness on the agenda.

Diversity has made it’s quick shift from vacuous platitudes and buzzword overload to the next big cornerstone sought out by the corporate world at large. In 2015, just four CEO’s in the Fortune 500 were black. [1] Having had the privilege to speak at Debut Careers’ “Breaking Barriers” event a few months ago, I had the privilege of hearing from two law firms on what diversity means for them. It’s more than just the feel- good factor for an overzealous Partner but rather essential for business.Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 23.47.08.png

Approaching this from a legal perspective: clients want a firm that is reflective of them. Period. Clients want a firm that can relate to and effectively address their issues. A law firm isn’t going to successfully help seal the deal with the other side in the Middle East if they’re pale, male and stale with no understanding of the most basic cultural differences. The working week in Dubai is Sunday to Thursday (Friday is Jummah). The levy of interest is strictly forbidden under Sharia law. Catch my drift?

71% of senior judges were privately educated; 75% were Oxbridge alumni and all 12 judges of the UK Supreme Court are white. Only one is a woman. [2]

While the glass ceiling remains ever so high and stronger to break than ever before, it is important that those candidates who can benefit can make the best use of the numerous schemes out there be they within or without the legal environment but also demonstrate a distinct awareness of the importance of diversity to business. A good candidate will not only be able to identify the necessity for increased diversity within a given industry or organisation but rather how diversity within can be improved. Be that international exchanges with partners and colleagues abroad or bespoke recruitment channels. If we are darting back to commercial awareness again, we’d see that this in itself demonstrates an overall interest in the business and doing your bit to see it thrive. It’s important that those of us who are of minority ethnic background make use of the networks open to us. Black Solicitor’s Network and The Law Collective are but a few very strong groups open to increasing diversity within the profession.

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Next edition: Monday 12th September

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