Recruiters slam Eversheds' demands for diversity

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Readers' comments (125)

  • Question for questioner of Nick Root

    That last posting is numbingly obtuse (and no doubt posted by another recruiter). The point of monitoring is not to engage in knee-jerk reactions and engage in positive discrimination. If over a period of time any recruitment agency can see a pattern emerging, it can have a look at itself, the instructions it gets from law firms and its placement techniques to see if anything is being done which - consciously or not - is working against minority candidates.

    Only then - in co-operation with law firms and involving a lot of small steps - can you address the problem. It's no good coming up with absurd situations to discredit those who are trying to do something. What EXACTLY do you do?

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  • Diversity

    The answer to this problem does not lie with recruiters, Eversheds or Tyco because the causes of the lack of diversity (particularly with regard to race) have their roots in deeper socio-economic problems.

    In simple terms, education is a key criterion when it comes to recruitment in the legal profession and, unfortunately, a disproportionate amount of ethnic minorities are socially and economically disadvantaged and thus do not get the same breaks when it comes to education as white middle class kids.

    One wonders if it is really within the powers of the profession to genuinely influence these issues.
    However, there are no extenuating circumstances for a lack of diversity on any other grounds.

    Finally, as a seasoned recruiter, in crude terms, a recruiter wants to make the right placement regardless of any criteria which might be subject to prejudice. It is just not in our interest to do so. Eversheds' stance fails to recognise that recruiters can only work with the talent available, and because of those deeper lying socio economic factors, that talent pool is too often very white, very male and very middle class.

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  • Diversity

    What a can of worms this has opened! Last week I was submitting a candidate to one of my City clients (UK top 10). Part of their online submission system has a section asking us to provide information about ethnic background, sexuality, disability, sex, age etc. I explained that the only reason for the information is to monitor diversity and uphold equal opportunities. On asking my candidate for this information I was greeted with a great deal of suspicion and she did not believe that the information would not be passed on to the screening partners. I was asked why this information couldn't be asked further down the line, say after an offer. What can I say?

    This client also asks for date of birth in order to distinguish candidates with the same name. What a crock! Wouldn't a law society roll number be better?

    As an earlier recruiter said, it is in our interests to submit any candidate if we think they are up to the job. However, after over ten years in recruitment, experience says that we are usually on a hiding to nothing. Once in a blue moon we place someone with a non-stereotype background but they are the exception. Some clients like to use their KPIs to measure our performance, e.g. measuring the total number of CVs submitted, first interviews and placements.

    I can go on a moral crusade and submit only ethnic minority CVs but very quickly I will get kicked of preferred supplier lists for failing to meet their targets. I am happy to work with clients to broaden the appeal of firms to candidate populations who would not normally be targeted, but clients need to review their own processes and accept that many of their good intentions and associated processes are actually very off-putting and niave.

    At the end of the day, I can submit the required information to Eversheds but they need to ask what they will do with it...if they want to achieve their aim, positive discrimination creeps in and that opens yet another can of worms. Have they got the balls to see this one through?

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  • Recruitment agencies are an end to supplying diverse candidates to companies that requires them, but these are not an end in itself.

    Tyco wants all recruitment agencies to help in its diversity programme by sending a more diverse pool of candidates to choose. And it also demanded that Eversheds have a similar diversity programme. Both had sought the help of recruitment agencies to help and supply good diversity candidates for them. This should be considered as a good business transection and relationship, like a principal and an agent where all parties can benefit and profit from such transaction.

    For Tyco and Eversheds to talk about 'murder' is not right. With due respect, recruitment agencies are means to an end for them (Tyco and Eversheds) but not an end to their diversity programmes.

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  • Answer to questioner of questioner of Nick Root

    You are right in that I am a recruiter. And you want to know what we do to alleviate the world's problems? Well, and probably like most recruiters, I work in a company of which you would be proud. Why? Because for our own company, the only thing that matters when recruiting for ourselves, is talent, attitude, collegiality, teamwork etc.

    So, a quick look around the office shows me that over 50% of our staff are women, two thirds of the senior leadership team are women and 50% of the company could claim to be from an ethnic minority. Can you say the same about your firm? If not, what are you doing about it?

    In regards to our clients, the only thing that we can do is to point out to departmental heads that there don't seem to be role models within their teams and, therefore, if they are now looking for another partner, they might want to bear that in mind. We then attempt to find the best people in the market for them regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual persuasion.

    What else can we do? Apart from tick a box to keep you, Eversheds and Tyco happy.

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  • Diversity targets can warp values

    Just to add my own experience to the mix, one of my colleagues admitted that he hired one of two equally good candidates because that candidate was Jewish, allowing him to boost his department's BME statistics.

    This was despite the fact the candidate in question went to a public school and lived in an expensive area of London - i.e. he was by no means from a deprived background - while the other, an 'Anglo-Saxon', was state-educated and came from a rough area of north London. In addition, Jewish people are by no means numerically under-represented in the law. To my mind that wasn't really about fairness, or about having the best people for the job - Society suffers, and so too, potentially, could the quality of our law firm.

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  • how about some facts?

    The Lawyer article doesn't say what Eversheds/Tyco are actually asking of agencies - wouldn't it be useful to have this information or would facts detract from the drama of the article?

    The REC, the professional body for recruitment agencies, actively encourages its members to adopt practices that support diversity because they recognise the important role agencies have to play. They also offer agencies the opportunity to sign up to a diversity charter - how many legal recruitment agencies have done so? You can check out for yourself at Do law firms understand that we must work with the recruitment pool we already have? Of course we do. And we realise that one of the ways of broadening this pool of talent is by encouraging more diversity at the entrant level and raising aspirations of bright kids while they are still at school - this is why many firms are working hard to try to change perceptions of the profession through diversity projects in their local communities and universities.

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  • Comments about Jews in the profession

    Anon at 10:43 has made an unsubstantiated comment about over-representation of Jews in the profession dressed up in hearsay: 'one of my colleagues admitted...'. Utter crap. And what does this mean: 'In addition, Jewish people are by no mens (sic) numerically under-represented in the law'.

    As someone who is Jewish I can tell Anon that I have suffered antisemitism and racism from bigots in law firms I have worked for. If I worked for your firm, no doubt you would be one of those bigots.

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  • Dirversity in law firms

    Anonymous @10:43: Are you going to resign from your firm now that it and ultimately society at large are going to suffer because of the partner's alleged recruitment habits?

    After all, you don't want to work for a law firm with such a recruitment policy, or do you? Did it not occur to you that the partner might have self-preservation motives for saying what he/she did? You should be ashamed.

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  • 10.43: let's clarify

    In reply to the two responses to my post at 10.43, you have both misinterpreted what I said. Contrary to what you allege, I at no point said that Jewish people are 'over represented' in the law (see the comment below for the evidence), or that Jewish people never experience anti-semitism.

    The point I was making is that the ethnic aspects of diversity priorities are intended to address low numbers of other ethnic groups in the profession, such as people of West Indian or Bangladeshi origin. By contrast, there are large number of Jewish people in the profession - this is not a bad thing, but does mean that Jewish people shouldn't be favoured above other ethnic groups on the basis of their being Jewish.

    To remove any doubt, I would be appalled if anyone were to NOT get a job because they are Jewish: that is quite wrong and I condemn it.

    The point I was making is that in this instance, the Jewish person in question was given an advantage meant for the under-privileged and the disadvantaged, when he was neither, Meanwhile the person who genuinely did face adversity in coming from a rough(ish) background was discriminated AGAINST. That wasn't fair, nor did it help Society.

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