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Diversity at BDB Pitmans:
Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Group
To build a truly inclusive and diverse culture in any firm requires committed leadership from its partners, so in 2008 we formed a partner led Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Group. I am proud to have been a part of this group from the start which has overseen real and positive change. A programme of lunch and learn seminars throughout the year on all aspects of diversity including: neurodiversity, faith in the workplace, working parenthood, tackling hate crime, transclusivity, physical and mental well-being, generational difference, have seen increasing engagement and helped to raise awareness across the firm.
By participating in Stonewall’s WEI index, being a founding member of LeGal BesT, supporting our network groups Best Self and SHINE, launching an annual Diversity Week, training up Diversity Champions and working with external organisations such as Aspiring Solicitors we have always aimed to be proactively pushing forward our diversity and inclusion agenda. While we have already achieved a lot we recognise that there is still a great deal to do. We are working hard to create a working environment within which all individuals are treated with respect, fairness and courtesy and have the opportunity to give their best and be appropriately recognised, rewarded and developed for their contribution.
Penny Chapman, Partner
SHINE is the internal multi-cultural network at BDB Pitmans, which has been established to support all employees at the firm to be their authentic selves and to champion their achievements in the workplace. The group provides a forum for ethnic minority staff to share issues and discuss their experiences in a safe space, and also aims to encourage peer support between ethnic minority employees at the firm.
SHINE liaises closely with the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Group to raise issues within the firm of matters affecting ethnic minority employees and to assist in identifying ways in which the firm can support its ethnic minority employees, as well as advising as to how the firm can attract, retain and promote diverse talent.
Whilst the group is open to all staff who define themselves as an ethnic minority, those who do not identify as an ethnic minority but who share SHINE’s ethos are also welcome to join. The group is sponsored by three partners in the firm, who act as advocates for SHINE, and who support and promote the group’s activities.
In addition to the above, SHINE aims to increase the firm’s awareness of diversity, ethnicity and culture. Previous activities include:
*writing mini-biographies for each week of Black History Month 2019, which highlighted a prominent black British lawyer, concluding with an article on Carl Newman, partner and head of the firm’s White Collar Crime department;
* hosting events in the London and Reading offices during the firm’s Diversity Fortnight in November 2019 dealing with challenging racial stereotypes and talking about race in the workplace;
* writing an informative internal article on the celebration of Chinese New Year;
* hosting events for International Women’s Day regarding the intersectionality of disability, gender and ethnicity and experiences of domestic violence in the South Asian community;
* creating an internal resources hub with a selection of mediums (such as books, films and podcasts) to increase awareness and knowledge of issues affecting the Black community amongst members of the firm; and
* participating and feeding back to the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Group on various initiatives the firm should promote, support and incept for its current and future ethnic minority employees.
Best Self is BDB Pitmans’ internal LGBTQ+ group. Sometimes people can feel concerned about coming out in the workplace and we believe that having a visible LGBTQ+ group makes this easier. If you can be yourself at work, then you can be your best self.
The Best Self group aims to ensure that LGBTQ+ staff feel welcome and comfortable to be themselves at work. Throughout the year the Best Self group meets for lunch and drinks. Last year we hosted a movie night for the whole firm, where we watched ‘Call me by your name’ along with Italian food.
The Best Self group raises awareness of LGBT issues through articles and leaflets. For example, we published an article on 50 years on from Stonewall. We distributed a leaflet highlighting the ‘B’ in LGBT. During World AIDS Month we raised funds in support of the National AIDS Trust. On Valentine’s Day, we put a rainbow chocolate heart on every staff member’s table with a leaflet raising awareness of LGBT History month.
We are proud to be a member of LeGal BesT, a network of 15 law firms who believe that we can achieve more together to support LGBTQ+ staff. This involves attending regular committee meetings to discuss and organise social events, pub quizzes and seminars. We have applied to Pride in London for the last two years to participate in the march. Both applications were successful and around 35 of us took part in the march, all wearing our ‘LeGal BesT’ t-shirts with pride.
Firm Quote On Diversity:
At BDB Pitmans we are committed to providing outstanding client service by maintaining the highest standards of professional excellence. Creating an environment for all members of staff which is not only free from any form of discrimination, harassment or bullying, but celebrates and values diversity, is key to meeting this objective.
Diversity and inclusion isn’t just a tick box exercise at BDB Pitmans, we really are trying to build an inclusive firm where everyone’s differences are embraced and valued. I’m proud to be a member of the Strategy Group and ensure that diversity and inclusion at BDB Pitmans is given the priority and support it deserves.