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Recruiters slam Eversheds' demands for diversity

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  • About time

    While I was working at Eversheds I last year I did not feel that it was a culture which welcomed diversity. Being gay I could not feel myself and, as there is a fairly strong Christian presence, no encouragement that I ever should be.

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  • But what IS it that they want?

    From what I know of Eversheds, they believe in the 'if you can measure it then you can manage it' ... a bit like most businesses .... if you class yourself as being a business, that is!

    Maybe they'd like these diversity stats from recruiters so they can see which agencies are actually most effective in supplying good minority candidates from a variety of backgrounds.

    I would assume that the next stage would then be to use these agencies to get the people that they want. I can't see anything wrong in asking suppliers to prove their credentials. Perhaps if recruiters weren't so busy kicking off on the subject and actually asked law firms what they as their clients need, then we might get somewhere.

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  • What to expect

    For some minorities, it's only to be expected that they will be disproportionately under-represented. For example, black males make up I would guess about 3% (very roughly) of the UK population, but perform the worst at school (statistically) so it's to be expected that many law firms may have fewer than 3% of black male lawyers.

    However, this does have a flipside: women do much better at school so there probably should be more women entering the law. However, that assumes that as many woman are as interested as entering the law as men. If it turns out that a higher proportion of talented men try to enter the law, then maybe it's OK that men make up a disproportionaltely large number of lawyers.

    But I wonder if it's a bit harsh to blame recruiters. I was a recruiter once and as we only cared about the commission, we would always send forward the best, most well qualified candidates for a job. I'd be surprised if Eversheds or whoeveer were rejecting good candidates simply on skin colour.

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  • Equally Bad Treatment

    Well, I am middle-class, white, public school educated, with a First Class Oxbridge degree...and Eversheds still rejected me. Hurrah! Eversheds treats everyone equally badly!

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  • Diversity

    How can a recruiter deliver diversity when there isn't any diversity in the candidate pool?

    For example, I am currently conducting a headhunt assignment in a particular area of law. Of the 100 or so qualified candidates, only 35% are women and only one is from an ethnic minority. So how do I deliver greater diversity and deliver a qualified candidate?

    I would submit a green, three-eyed bisexual Martian if they were a qualified Solicitor with sufficient following (and if anyone knows one, please reply on the blog), so I would LOVE to offer more diversity, however there simply is not a sufficiently diverse pool from which to select.

    Yes recruiters can do more to consult with firms on improving diversity, we can do more to monitor diversity, but to suggest that we are in any way a cause of the problem is not an accurate reflection of the situation.

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  • Eversheds' Demands Diveristy

    As a well qualified black associate currently working at a top law firm in the City, I know my partners and colleagues alike do not quite acknowledge that I have a right to be here just as much as they do.

    Fact is, most law firms in the UK are clueless as to what 'diversity' really means and quite frankly do not know how to deal with 'black' or other diverse lawyers and I ended up feeling like a fish out of water and it does make me sad and angry as I want to be judged for my work alone, not how I look or how I 'fit in'.

    This is a big problem for the UK private practice community,and it is shameful that in 2008 that majority of our law firms do not reflect any sort of diversity (that our society does).

    There's no excuse, the partners have to lead the way and set the standard, yet they do not. I applaud Tyco as if not for clients like these, we would be non-existent in UK law firms. However I have no respect for firms increasing their minority intake just to please clients. The clients will see through it, they need to take some notes from US law firm which, while not perfect, at least have a respectful number of minority associates and shockingly, minority partners too! We can and must do better.

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  • Black British and non-British black

    I agree wholeheartedly with anyone who says there ought to be greater representation of minority groups in the profession: this is only fair.

    However I would like to raise one smaller point relevant to the debate which I find confuses the issue, and that is unfair to many black Britons.

    This is that there is a distinct difference between Black Britons - black people who are born in the UK and who are part of its culture and understand its values - and new immigrants from Africa or the West Indies.

    While there is no reason why a black Briton is any less qualified to work in a law firm than a white one, the truth is that this is often not the case with members of the second group (recent immigrants), who sometimes do not understand the cultural norms of British colleagues and clients, and for whom sometimes English is a second language.

    However the rules of political correctness do not allow us to make this distinction, forcing employers to lump black Britons in the same group as all black people in Britain. The net result of this is that a degree of (unfair) negative association with both groups.

    The same might well also be true of Asian Britons and recent immigrants from Asia, though I have no experience of this personally.

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  • Social engineering...

    Enforced diversity measures like this are attempts at social engineering, plain and simple.

    Attempting to gerrymander who is a winner and who is a loser by foisting quotas on the 'buy side' (i.e. the employer and its agents) nearly always fails, as the market finds ways around it.

    Furthermore this just lets the 'sell side' (i.e. the God-awful British education system) off the hook. The real reason there are diversity issues (whether on a class or race basis) is down to the failure of British education policy, particularly in the inner cities.

    Funnily enough I work in a Magic Circle firm and it is actually an incredibly diverse place. There is a huge racial and class mix. But, interestingly, most non-white lawyers are not British - they come from Australia, India, China, the US, Malaysia, South Africa etc (actually most of the white lawyers aren't British either, as they are all from Australasia, but we will ignore that). Doesn't that tell you something?

    The issue, at least at my firm, isn't an unwillingness to embrace diversity: the issue is that British society doesn't produce the goods other than in very limited sections of the community (how many white working class female lawyers do you find in the City?).

    It will be interesting to see how Eversheds and Tyco go about trying to square that circle.

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  • Opinions please...how would I fare?

    I am a white, female, lower middle class, state school educated qualified journalist converting to law.

    My parents could have afforded to privately school me but sent me to a (highly reputable) state school as they believed I would get a better grounding there.

    I got A's and B's at A level. I turned down an offer to read English at Cambridge to do the most highly respected journalism degree in the country at Bournemouth Media School, one of the best media schools in Europe, but part of Bournemouth University formed out of an old Poly.

    I just missed out on a first as I contracted glandular fever in my final year. Rather than file and photocopy as a legal assistant in a law firm, I hold down a demanding and respected full time job as a fraud investigator to get practical legal and business experience and handle my own caseload.

    I did my GDL part time at BPP but just missed out on a commendation as I couldn't devote as much time to it as I wanted due to my 50 hour working week. I cannot do work experience or vacation schemes as I do not have the annual leave available.

    I start my LPC (again part time) in September and am applying to mid-large media type firms in the City (Olswang, Harbottle & Lewis etc) with a view to using my industry training and experience to practice media law.

    Despite having the skills, abilities, business acumen, practical legal experience, caseload management experience, media experience, A level results, class and 'right' skin colour, I appear to have the wrong sex, schooling, university, degree/GDL results and law firm experience. What exactly would they make of me?

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  • Advice for Determined

    I'd try and find that Cambridge offer letter if I were you... The old "I could have gone to Oxbridge but went to [x] for the course" is a route too well trodden by minor public school failures to elicit any sympathy!

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