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Slaughter and May has emerged as the only top 20 firm to have implemented a formal diversity policy, a survey by The Lawyer’s sister title Lawyer 2B has found.
In addition, only Norton Rose carries out compulsory diversity training for all staff. The research also found that ethnic minority trainees are still failing to break through to partnership level.
On average, 14 per cent of new trainees and 11 per cent of newly-qualifieds are from an ethnic minority. However, the comparative figure at partnership level is 3 per cent.
However, the majority of firms do have an equal opportunities policy, while some, such as Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, incorporate diversity into other policies. Others, such as CMS Cameron McKenna, Herbert Smith and Link-laters, have created diversity groups.
Linklaters corporate partner Brigid Rentoul sits on Linklaters’ global diversity committee, which is made up of partners, HR professionals and change management specialists.
She said that the committee was set up originally to explore why so few women were becoming partners, but expanded its remit to wider diversity issues. “The partnership is probably not as representative as it could be,” she said.
“Clearly it’s an issue that has been in the press. Clearly a number of clients are taking steps in this area. There’s a business issue for us as well as a moral issue,” added Rentoul.
Linklaters is planning to introduce an action plan with an emphasis on greater monitoring of its recruitment, training and flexible working policies. “This will make it a bit less ad hoc and a bit more systematic,” said Rentoul.
The release of the Lawyer 2B survey coincides with the introduction of new regulations outlawing both direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, religion or belief. The regulations, which come into force this week, will require all employers to reassess their policies.