Pinsent Masons

Internal Diversity Networks:

These icons refer to the respective internal networks or groups we have established, click one to view more information.

Zita Dempsey

Zita Dempsey

Trainee Solicitor
Diversity and Inclusion is extremely important at Pinsent Masons and trainees are encouraged to participate in all D&I groups and events. I am a member of the Female Futures group, a networking group with the goal of making the firm the best place to work for women at all levels, and the LGBT+ and Allies Network Group, which serves the interests of the firm’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and promotes diversity within the firm. Other diversity networking groups include Disability & Wellbeing, the Family Support Network and F.R.E.E. (Faith, Race, Ethnicity, Equality). In terms of diversity within the trainee group itself, I am a Scottish trainee and in Scotland there is a good mix of trainees from all different backgrounds. There are currently more female than male trainees but I think this is reflective of the gender split at university and the progression of the profession generally. In Scotland, I think our racial and ethnic diversity could be improved but I know that in other offices diversity in this respect is much better. All in all, I have found Pinsent Masons to be a very open and accepting firm where everyone is free to be themselves.

Diversity at Pinsent Masons:

FREE (Faith, Race, Ethnicity and Equality) Network (Kultar Khangura, Partner in the Birmingham Commercial Property team and Chair of the firm’s FREE Network Group).

At Pinsent Masons, our aim is to promote the idea that a career in professional services is open to everyone. Specifically, we want to widen access to the legal profession by encouraging candidates from BAME backgrounds. One of our key aims is to raise career aspirations amongst 15-18 year olds. We visit partner schools in inner-city areas near our offices, talk to the students about their future plans, offering practical help with CVs and college applications as well as providing them with encouragement and guidance.

Whilst this is absolutely the right thing to do, there’s a huge commercial benefit as well. We’re an international firm with clients from all parts of the world, who expect us to be forward-thinking and creative. By creating a truly inclusive and diverse workforce, we are able to draw upon the knowledge, expertise and differing perspectives of all our colleagues to deliver world-class legal services to our clients.

Why does the group matter to potential applicants?

Thinking back almost 14 years to when I first joined Pinsent Masons, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of black and Asian faces around the office, compared to what I had seen elsewhere in the legal profession. Throughout my time at Pinsent Masons, I’ve been impressed by the commitment demonstrated, not only by senior management, but by colleagues across the business to diversity and inclusion at the Firm and in the legal profession as a whole. The result of this commitment is that we continue to attract BAME applicants who join us for Vacation Placements and Training Contracts and discover that inclusive culture for themselves.

How do you view the outlook personally?

It’s encouraging to see more black and Asian lawyers are coming through now compared to twenty years ago – we’re clearly going in the right direction. In 2019 we will further develop ‘Sun’, our race and ethnicity initiative, reviewing the recommendations from our consultation process and creating an implementation and development plan.

The situation won’t change overnight, but we embed Sun and, as more BAME trainees join and qualify with the firm and are willing to act as role models for those coming up behind them, things will move in the right direction. We need to keep pushing the message that a career in law, and the professions more generally, is open to anyone with drive and ambition.

Disability & Wellbeing Group (Elaine MacGregor, Senior Associate in the Glasgow Corporate team and Co-Chair of the Disability & Wellbeing Group).

The Disability & Wellbeing Group was set up a few years ago because it was an area of diversity which was becoming increasingly important to the Firm.

Our over-riding aim is to support candidates with disabilities being recruited into the firm as well as ensuring that any colleague with a disability has the support they need from the firm. We are particularly keen that employees do not face any barriers in carrying out their role, or when considering a new role or promotion.

We share our individual experiences and success stories to break down potential barriers for those who are considering joining the firm and work hard to make things easier for our colleagues with disabilities. With this in mind, we work with HR and Early Talent to deliver a comprehensive workplace adjustments policy. We feel that it is important that anyone needing adjustment or assistance (even if just for temporary reasons such as through injury, ill-health, pregnancy etc.) can easily access the help, support and information that they require. It’s really helpful for people with disabilities to have someone to approach to say ‘I’ve got this particular issue, has anyone dealt with it before?’ or ‘Have you got any advice on how I might approach the situation?’

How do you see things going forward?

The interesting thing about having a Disability & Wellbeing group is trying to work out exactly why you need one and what it can deliver. That’s why Pinsent Masons is particularly good at tackling disability-related issues – we know what’s needed. The obvious things that a disability group might focus on, like access and making bespoke arrangements for people are already well catered for, so we can move towards dealing with the less obvious things.

Since we want to become an employer of choice for talented disabled people, one way the group can help is by becoming involved with the firm’s professional and personal development programme. We are Level 1 accredited as Disability Confident and are investigating the move towards Level 2 accreditation. We ensure that colleagues involved in the recruitment, selection and supervision of our trainee solicitors, and other colleagues, are trained on understanding candidates with varying needs.

Why does the group matter to potential applicants?

From my own experience, the firm has been fantastic in helping me continue working after an accident. I hope that it is re-assuring for applicants to know that there are people within the firm who may have had similar experiences and can share details of the support they have received.

From a wider perspective, the support that the Firm provides for disabled candidates and colleagues is testament to the move towards a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.

How do you view the outlook personally?

There are great role models throughout the firm who have not let their disability or health problems hold them back. From speaking to other employees, I know there are more colleagues out there who perhaps feel they do not meet the criteria to become a member of the group but that’s not the case. We always seek to reach to a wider audience across the firm and get more people involved with the group. The louder our ‘collective voice’ is the more others can benefit from our experiences.

Female Futures (Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Head of the Belfast office and International Chair of Female Futures, the firm’s female networking group).

What are the key aims of the Female Futures Group?

The aim of the group is to make Pinsent Masons the best place for women to work at all levels. We are looking to create a law firm which, as well as being a market-leader, is a place where women really want to work because they can develop successful careers and have an enjoyable working life. We encourage involvement from all members of the firm, and are delighted to have our male colleagues join the group and/or attend our events. The idea, after all, is to create an inclusive culture where every employee is encouraged, supported and treated fairly, and without bias. We focus on topics such as recruitment, retention, career progression and job satisfaction for women. Progress has already been made through mentoring, maternity and parental support groups as well as delivery of training on unconscious bias and diversity issues, which is now widely available. As the group continues to grow we are looking for new ideas and different views on how to achieve our goals and fresh thinking from new recruits is extremely important.

How do you see things going forward?

The firm employs a higher percentage of women than men so we need to move away from thinking about their issues as one of diversity or a minority concern. The legal profession is known for having a high number of female trainees which is a great starting point and yet, in spite of the investment in recruitment and training, most law firms struggle to retain these women throughout their whole career. Historically this happened because women often feel that they won’t be able to combine work and family life, or to achieve promotion. One of our main objectives is to change this thinking and ensure that there is a continued and structured support network and flexible working patterns available which allow women to go on maternity leave or take career breaks without fear that their career will be damaged as a result. The very clear feedback from our clients is that having more women at board level and a willingness to look at non-uniform solutions is seen as a real advantage in business as it helps to promote growth, productivity and morale and provides a better balance in any decision making process. Pinsent Masons is ahead of the curve on this through initiatives such as Sky, which was established in Spring 2013 to create a better gender balance with particular reference to the partnership and senior leadership team, and which will in turn help make the firm a better workplace for all. Whilst this was always bound to be a long process, the firm has set targets and milestone dates for an increase in the % of female partners and board members and, having achieved our first target of 25% female partners ahead of schedule, we have now set our next goal of 30% by 2020.

An important element of this progress is the collaboration between Sky and Female Futures to ensure that activities and objectives are coordinated and complimentary. A number of our members are Sky Champions who report back to the Sky Delivery Board with concerns, suggestions and general feedback from the group so that Sky does not just focus upon senior roles but becomes part of the recruitment and promotion strategy within the firm as a whole.

Why does the group matter to potential applicants?

The group is the largest among the diversity networks and has hundreds of female members at all levels and across all of the offices, including the international offices. It is therefore a wonderful support network and a great forum to meet and interact with other women from different backgrounds. We are very lucky to be able to host interesting events which include training and presentations from inspirational female business leaders about their success and the challenges they have faced in their working life as well as informal networking events across our UK office network. It’s not about special treatment – it’s about support, mentoring and business development, and it is also a great chance to mix with women within the firm and across a wider business spectrum. Any woman joining the firm should get involved to ensure that we are representative of the cross section of women within the firm.

How do you view the outlook personally?

Whilst there is still a long way to go, I believe that there has never been a better time for women to have a career in law in terms of opportunity. The real advantage of having a committed and recognised diversity network is that subjects such as flexible working, career breaks, family leave, which were previously never openly discussed, are now discussed and actively addressed. New initiatives are being introduced with a constant review of how we can do things better. If we are to continue to change the culture and reach the targets that we have set, it is essential to have a strong network of women from all areas of the firm who are enthusiastic, willing to get involved and share their views as members of Female Futures.

LGBT+ Network (Liam Wardley, Head of Business Development team and a member of the LGBT+ Network).

What are the key aims of the LGBT Network?

The network is in place to support the welfare and interests of LGBT+ people throughout the firm and promote diversity and greater understanding of the LGBT+ perspective on issues such as marriage and parenting. We also work with clients to help them develop their own policies, diversity networks and employee champions. We also support initiatives such as Stonewall’s education programmes as part of the firm’s Starfish community investment programme.

The network is made up of lawyers at all levels, members from our business operations teams, and includes senior people who are very willing to mentor new trainees. It offers you a really good network of contacts, right across the firm. If ever you have a question, there’s always someone you can go to for advice.

How do you see things going forward?

The firm rightly has a great reputation in the market place for recruiting and retaining members of the LGBT+ community. This is thanks, in no small part, to the senior partners who have acted as trailblazers by breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes. We are keen to continue that work as well as using our knowledge and experience in other areas of diversity.

For me, working more with clients and suppliers on developing their diversity networks is a great way to add value to the relationship, work in true partnership and demonstrate our commitment to diversity.

A good example is the infrastructure industry, one of our Global Sectors. Our reputation in this sector, together with our amazing diversity credentials, gives us the opportunity to raise diversity issues with our clients, and we’re seeing positive results. We have recently worked with our clients in this sector to launch the first LGBT Infrastructure & Construction network ‘Off Site’, which is aimed at creating a network of LGBT people who work in the infrastructure industry. We have had a fantastically encouraging response and the network is growing every week!

Why does the group matter to potential applicants?

When I was looking for a new role, Pinsent Masons emerged with a reputation for being an organisation with a great working environment, full of very friendly people and a culture in which you can really thrive and be yourself.

When I joined, and became involved in the firm’s LGBT network, I started to understand how different Pinsent Masons were to other companies, specifically other law firms. It’s not surprising that Pinsent Masons is the No. 1 ranked employer in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2019.

How do you view the outlook personally?

I think Pinsent Masons is a great place to work. It has an environment which you are really happy to be part of. Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of what the firm stands for. Some of our most senior partners are openly gay or lesbian, and living in civil partnerships or marriages. We work closely with Stonewall, and both our LGBT Network and Straight Allies were active in the equal marriage and No Bystanders campaigns.

The key thing for me is that there is a really inclusive culture that accepts you for who you are. I found it hugely encouraging that I could openly be myself at work and not encounter any barriers. You don’t have to hide your sexuality – it’s simply not an issue.

Margaret Ann Roy

Graduate Recruitment Manager

Firm Quote On Diversity:

It’s evident from our ranking as the number one employer in the 2019 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index that diversity and inclusivity is important at Pinsent Masons. Whilst this ranking is particularly important for our LGBT+ and Allies communities, it is something which is being celebrated widely across the firm. This ranking is evidence of our commitment to creating a truly inclusive culture where our people have the opportunity to succeed regardless of their gender, sexual orientation (including lesbian, gay and bisexual), gender identity and expression, marital or civil partner status, race, religion or belief, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, disability, age or pregnancy.