Slaughters appoints second diversity chief as it pilots flexi-working scheme

Slaughter and May has appointed a second diversity chief, Susannah Macknay, to assist the firm’s inclusion efforts.

Corporate partner Macknay has been working alongside litigator Ewan Brown, who has been working as the firm’s sole diversity partner since 2012. Macknay took up the post in May, following an appointment by Slaughters’ management board. 

Slaughters has also been trialling a new flexi-working initiative, with a view to enabling associates to work from home for one day each fortnight. 

The pilot scheme, which was launched in May, is available to four of the firm’s practice groups – dispute resolution, pensions and employment, plus one corporate sub-group and one financial sub-group. 

It is currently only an option for associates who have qualified at the firm since September 2012. However, a number of partners have also taken the opportunity to get involved in the scheme. 

The trial is being run by Brown, who said: “We’re conscious that flexi-working is something that people are increasingly interested in. This pilot is to look more carefully at how we can offer working from home in a way that ensures we maintain the same standard of experience and service for our clients”. 

It marks a sea change from Slaughters’ more formal flexi-working options such as working reduced hours, which require an official application to be rubber-stamped by practice groups. 

The programme is expected to run for at least six months, during which time the firm will collect feedback from those involved. 

“It’s early days but we’ll gather more formal feedback as time goes on,” said Brown. “We’ll then use our learning to put together best practice guidelines.”

Unlike a number of other firms including Herbert Smith Freehills (13 March 2014), Pinsent Masons (3 March 2014) and Ashurst (4 June 2014), Slaughters does not plan to set aspirational quotas for its total number of female partners. 

Brown added: “There are ways in which we can facilitate more women joining the partnership. We’re focused on that but we don’t think that targets are the right way to go”. 

Of the firm’s 120 partners globally, 24 – or one fifth – are women. 

Slaughters also said it is not currently considering implementing a blind CV policy for applicants. However, it constantly keeps its recruitment processes under review. 

Firms including Clifford Chance (11 November 2013), Mayer Brown (5 March 2014) and Macfarlanes (1 April 2014) have introduced a blind CV policy to increase entry-level diversity over the past nine months.