Herbies targets cultural diversity with new firm network

Herbert Smith is to launch a multicultural network in a bid to provide support to ethnic, racial and cultural minorities within the firm, while raising awareness on cultural diversity among all staff.

Herbert Smith is to launch a multicultural network in a bid to provide support to ethnic, racial and cultural minorities within the firm, while raising awareness on cultural diversity among all staff.

The group, which is sponsored by corporate partners Alex Bafi and Hammad Akhtar, is the firm’s fourth network alongside the women’s, LGBT and work-life balance groups.

Head of diversity and inclusion at the firm Carolyn Lee said: “I would hope that one of the outcomes would be that we have a group of people who are happy to be showcased as role models. [But] in the first case it’s about creating support and confidence and encouraging people to think about networks in other ways.

“it has a function in finding out if there are issues we need [to] address,” she added.

But Lee said that the launch of the network was not driven by the bad publicity the firm received in 2008, when Indian associates felt singled out for cultural integration training in a move they criticised as “condescending” (25 February 2008).

Instead she said that the idea of the multicultural network was a “long-term strategy”.

Network co-sponsor Bafi had previously been involved in the ethnicity and social inclusion sub-group of the firm’s inclusivity group, which has been active on targeting racial and ethnic minorities in the graduate recruitment process. The new group’s remit will include this area, while also providing professional and business development for its members.