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Leading firms adopt data-driven measures to combat the career obstacles faced by BAME lawyers

06 July 2020
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DWF alongside many of the UK's leading law firms have today signed up the Race Fairness Commitment (RFC) as part of their ongoing programmes of helping to recruit, retain and develop Black, Asian and minority ethnic talent and ensure that ethnic minority lawyers have every chance to lead fulfilling careers at their firms.

Pathfinding measures included in the RFC include close analysis of quantitative data and monitoring throughout careers, from recruitment to senior promotion, in order to identify and attack the points at which BAME lawyers are unfairly falling behind their peers. Firms have also committed to decisive steps to ensure that race and racism are better recognised and talked about internally.

The RFC and its associated measures include concrete, very detailed steps to which all the signatories commit. These ensure that junior ethnic minority lawyers have access to senior management, and that race and racism are talked about in every induction and exit interview. Interview and offer rates, retention rates, pay and promotion rates will be actively monitored as they relate to ethnic minority lawyers; and, where appropriate, published.

Other measures of employee sentiment will also be taken regularly, and the RFC includes an explicit commitment to continue to foster workplaces where BAME people can be themselves at work as much as White people - without feeling the need to be inauthentic in terms of their speech or culture, simply in order to “fit in”.

Firms are taking this initiative in partnership with Rare, the diversity recruitment specialist that has been helping law firms and others recruit talented BAME candidates into tier-one graduate jobs for 15 years.

A priority for DWF is having reliable data on our ethnicity representation across the business. Earlier this year, DWF launched a diversity data campaign in England & Scotland with communications citing the need to improve ethnicity data disclosure. Over the past year we have empowered our Race & Ethnicity Network to influence our policy decisions throughout the employee lifecycle. Through reverse mentoring with our Race & Ethnicity Network and Executive Board, we have created a platform to those who have experienced racism to raise awareness of racial inequality and educate our current leaders.

In recognition of DWF's low representation of BAME colleagues at senior levels, our D&I Leadership Group worked with the Board to , set business-wide targets to achieve at least 10% BAME representation across senior leadership positions by 2022 and committed to initiate an Ethnicity Pay Gap Report by 2020.

Daniel Pollick and Zelinda Bennett, Executive Sponsors for Race & Ethnicity at DWF said: "Tackling racism and racial inequality takes an ongoing commitment and accountability to change the systems that have allowed it to continue. Becoming a signatory to the Race Fairness Commitment will drive transparency and help us to improve our current processes to increase BAME representation and build on our inclusive culture, which is critical to our business."

Other signatories include: Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, 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.