Linklaters LLP discusses the lessons learned about driving awareness and cultural change within the law firm
Linklaters LLP is committed to widening access to the legal profession, but its initiatives have often been isolated within functions and geographies, meaning duplication, omission and inconsistency. Its key objective in the past 18 months has been to bring all social mobility activity together and present it simply and effectively as a single narrative.
Central to this has been the Global and Diversity Recruitment team which was established in 2016. Their mission is to ensure that the company attracts and selects the best talent from around the world irrespective of background. As part of that, the team are responsible for ensuring that they are hiring from the widest talent pools possible and that they have left no stone unturned in their search for the next generation of leading minds.
The global law firm conducted a review and agreed which teams would cover the various initiatives at each level; all under 16 programmes are led by the Community Investment team and the 16-18+ age group falls to the Global and Diversity Recruitment team and HR more broadly. There’s plenty of collaboration but defining such clear leadership has been transformative, they say.
The firm then reviewed all its activities to ensure projects and programmes remained relevant. Tottenham is a new focus for its work with schools in the UK and for employability work within under-represented groups. Its mentoring and work experience programmes are now more targeted and increasingly run alongside clients in Sao Paulo and Paris. The company is collaborating more closely with university faculties to provide bursaries and support to candidates from non-traditional backgrounds in South Africa and Asia, while its recruitment team is successfully using a contextual recruitment system to recognise outstanding performance in more difficult settings.
Linklaters says it is reaping the rewards of this more joined-up approach. Last year, it was recognised amongst the top 20 employers in the UK’s inaugural Social Mobility Employer Index. The team are frequently asked to share their story with government, clients and others in the legal sector. They are also benefitting from greater clarity internally which is growing the engagement and understanding of its people, helping them to identify opportunities to improve.
The goal is to increase the visibility of diversity 'strands' that play out in the organisation and demonstrate strong leadership and accountability from the top. To achieve this aim, members of the senior leadership team have become champions of five key diversity 'strands' to help drive awareness and cultural change in the firm.
Nathalie Hobbs has recently been appointed Executive Champion for Social Mobility and is passionate about ensuring each office is doing something in this space. A new employee survey is underway to give a greater insight into the current workforce, and efforts to create a smooth path between all initiatives is ongoing.
To demonstrate its ongoing commitment to responsible business and diversity, Linklaters has:
- Welcomed over 750 young people per year into its City office for workplace tours, work experience and mentoring.
- An ongoing apprenticeship programme has now brought 25 local people into employment across the business, half of whom remain with them in direct, permanent employment.
- Worked in collaboration with diversity suppliers to host access schemes which introduce 55 year 12/13 students to its firm each year.