Ashurst diversity credentials attacked as firm lets go half its BME trainees

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  • I think many commenters are wrong to focus on direct discrimination. Noone is suggesting that Ashurt's qualification process discriminates against BME trainees.

    I think much of the difficulty stems from the office environment. Many city law firms have a very strong old boy network. Even on a more prosaic level, when office chat resolves around Wimbledon and the Oxford/Cambridge boat-race rather than Eastenders that will immediately make people from a less privileged background feel uncomfortable and perform poorly. This issue is difficult to address but is also very important.

    This ties in with people's comments about the issues faced by candidates who do not come from a private school or top grammar background.

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  • I am a "BME" and I feel privileged. Suspect Ashurst did that simply based on ethnic background, mayhaps their English is just not up to the very high standard?

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  • I am not convinced by the assumption that all those trainees from "a less privileged background" (whatever that may mean - no gold leaf on your iced bun, perhaps?) prefer to watch Eastenders of an evening, as opposed to Wimbledon or the rowing. It is exactly those sorts of assumptions, more than any, that succeed in alienating entire sections of society.

    As for the Ashurst NQ statistics, are we not overlooking the possibility that this is merely coincidental?

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  • This story is inane, given the small number of data in questions. But as for anonymous at 11.47, Eastenders and Wimbeldon are shown on the very same TV channel. Watching Eastenders isn't a decision based on class, it's a decision based on whether you want to waste four hours a week watching soap operas instead of something more constructive.

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  • @ Haldeman | 12-Jul-2013 8:51 am

    Having worked the riddle I arrive at 'coincidence' and I show the working below:
    That all 4 trainees not offered an NQ position are BME is very 'coincidental' and of course it's not likely that all the various partners who worked with them were biased. The 'coincidence' might heighten though if it turns out that none of the trainee partners is from the BME group. Perhaps the greatest 'coincidence' of all is when we remember that MOST people prefer what they can identify with.
    I hope my 'working' earns me all 10 marks.

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  • Playing Devil's advocate, if these eight/six/whatever number were not actually the 'weakest' (which is in itself difficult to gage), then I think this is a bit of a catch 22 situation.

    Law firms are pushing for increased diversity at one end of the profession, however the other end of the profession remains quite conservative. That isn't just when it comes to race but also gender, sexual orientation, disability, class background etc.

    Now, I don't think it is a deliberate or even conscious decision being made by the 'old boys' not to promote women, black people, gay people etc. but people tend to promote/invest in those who are like them. If there are not many within the organisation already who are sufficiently similar to you, you probably not going to have an advocate in the court.

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  • It's badly worded but the article doesn't say all BME trainees were not taken on. Presumably the "missing" 2 from the opening paragraphs have been offered NQ positions.

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  • Yes, all let go were BME, not all BME were let go.

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  • I fail to understand how Ashurst can be accused of being discriminatory if 8 out of 30 trainees were BME. If the other trainees were simply better then so be it. It is not fair to point the finger at the firm and expect that a review of the promotion systems is undertaken. It would be interesting to compare the trainee intake stats with other firms.

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  • What is the narrative behind the numbers?

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