Linklaters is UK’s most diverse firm, says exclusive research

Linklaters’ progressive workplace policies have led it to be crowned this year’s most diverse firm.

The accolade is the result of annual research carried out by the Black Solicitors Network (BSN) for its fifth Diversity League Table (DLT), published exclusively by The Lawyer.

Linklaters managing partner Simon Davies said building a diverse, inclusive culture was one of his firm’s main priorities.

“We aim to have a working environment in which individual differences are respected and valued and colleagues support and encourage one another to excel,” Davies added. “The Black Solicitors Network encourages the legal community to share best practice and the Diversity League Table provides a helpful opportunity to gauge our progress.”

For the first time the DLT takes into account steps taken to improve diversity, alongside actual outcomes.

As reported by The Lawyer, Linklaters has put considerable resources into creating an inclusive workplace. It is one of a small handful of City firms that monitors the social background of its graduate intake and is to start monitoring the sexuality and faith of its UK staff.

Linklaters also recently teamed up with gay charity Stonewall to look at ways of improving recruitment, retention and promotion of LGB staff. As part of that drive it carried out a survey of 600 members of staff in its London office, which found that 80 per cent of LGB employees are “out” and that 97 per cent of their straight peers were “comfortable” working with gay colleagues (6 December 2010).

DLT editor and BSN board member Michael Webster said: “As well as measuring a very important area of activity, the new policy and practice metric makes it much easier for participants to monitor and benchmark; thus helping to identify areas where specific attention might be required over the coming 12 months.

“If participants work towards improving their score in this way, it should help to accelerate improvements within their own organisations; something that can only be good for diversity and inclusion across the profession as whole.”

When demographics alone were taken into account Russell Jones & Walker (RJW) scored best, followed by Weightmans and Wedlake Bell. RJW and Weightmans had higher than average proportions of female partners, 28 per cent and 49 per cent respectively. While Wedlake Bell’s score was boosted by the fact that 12 per cent of partners at the firm at are ethnic minority.

Declaration rates for LGB and disabled employees are comparatively low. The highest proportion of LGB staff was at White & Case (4 per cent), but the sexuality of an additional 24 per cent was unknown. Similarly, 5 per cent of those at Flint Bishop were considered to be disabled but the status of 75 per cent of staff there was unknown.

The highest scoring chambers was 1 Crown Office Row, followed by 18 Red Lion Court and Fountain Court.

The DLT research was carried out with 48 firms, drawn from the largest 150 UK firms and 30 top international and US firms based in the City, and a further 16 chambers.

For further analysis on the diversity profiles of the largest 30 UK law firms see The Lawyer’s Diversity Report 2010.

Most diverse firms

Overall rank Firm
1 Linklaters
2 Baker & McKenzie
3 Norton Rose
4 Trowers & Hamlins
5 Irwin Mitchell
6 Allen & Overy
7 Eversheds
8 Weightmans
9 White & Case
10 Sidley Austin

Source: Black Solicitors Network