Addleshaw Goddard has begun collecting information on the social backgrounds of its graduate applicants.
As of last week all prospective trainees, as well as those seeking vacation scheme placements, have to indicate what type of school they spent the majority of their secondary education in, as well as whether they are among the first generation of their immediate family to go to university.
This is expected to be a precursor to collecting similar data on the rest of the workforce.
“We hope that the combination of questions will give us some interesting data,” commented diversity manager Mary Gallagher. “It’s so that we know our make-up – we’re not really making a judgement on it.”
Around 96 per cent of firms monitor the gender balance of their staff and 78 per cent ask their employees their ethnicity. However, despite the law’s reputation for being the domain of a privileged elite, very few firms collect data on social background.
In the past year Herbert Smith has begun asking graduate applicants whether they were educated in the private or state system. Out of 1,000 applicants the majority came from state schools, while 10 per cent declined to respond.
Carolyn Lee, Herbert Smith head of diversity, said she thought it was ”important to understand our people”, but lamented that “it doesn’t strip out grammar schools” from non-selective state schools.
In contrast, Addleshaws is asking applicants from the state sector to specify whether they went to selective schools or not.