Pinsent Masons

Internal Diversity Networks:

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

Ioana Chiva

Ioana Chiva

The firm’s approach to diversity is one of the key reasons why I applied for a vacation scheme with the firm back in 2016. As an international student, not being treated differently, working in an environment where I felt I belonged were very important considerations in considering which law firm I might want to work for one day. Ever since I joined Pinsent Mason in 2018 I noticed time and again how the firm celebrates the rich cultural backgrounds of its employees. There is a wide choice of networks that employees can join from the F.R.E.E network to LGBTQ+ to Female Futures and more, and the one thing that I love about these networks is that they are not just mailing lists. These are groups of people who want to raise awareness but who also want to learn and be better. The firm encourages open conversations about diversity and makes no exceptions, it encourages everyone to learn and challenge their own unconscious biases. Five years after I submitted my vacation scheme application, I can honestly say that all my expectations were met and that I honestly feel I joined a firm that cares about its employees and constantly strives to improve and promote diversity in everything.

Diversity at Pinsent Masons:

FREE (Faith, Race, Ethnicity and Equality) Network (Hammad Akhtar, Head of Corporate for the Financial Services Sector 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?

The Group plays an important role in driving forwards our Diversity & Inclusivity agenda at the firm. It allows us to share experience, develop best practice and to bring colleagues from diverse backgrounds together. We are keen for applicants to get involved in the Group and, if they go on to join the firm, for the Group to support their careers at the firm like it already does for so many others.

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 2020 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, Legal Director in the Glasgow Funds 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 (Joanne Gillies, Partner and International Chair of Female Futures).

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 achieved our first target of 25% female partners ahead of schedule. We will continue Sky throughout 2020 and beyond, setting targets and milestone dates for an increase in the % of female partners and board members. Currently our board is 44% female.

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 Purpose Transformation 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 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 marketplace 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 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.

Family Support Network (Gail Peters and Carla New, Co-chairs of the Family Support Network)

What are the key aims of the Family Support network?

Our Family Support Network was established to provide support to people in the firm around all aspects of family life. We have a wide focus; including promoting the balance of work and family life, supporting working parents/step-parents (of any gender), raising awareness of elder care and supporting those who are caring for vulnerable, elderly or disabled relatives.

As part of our commitment to the wellbeing and personal development of our people, we have memberships with a number of organisations to ensure we are following best practice. We run regular events to raise awareness and to educate ourselves on issues faced by modern families. We also seek the views of our network in order to ensure that the firm’s policies and procedures follow best practice, and support those trying to balance work and family commitments. Our members join regular calls to discuss relevant issues, plan events and share information and ideas.

How do you see things going forward?

Similarly to many other businesses, our Network has historically been seen as a place that is mainly focused on those with children, often mothers. We have worked hard to debunk this myth, through the establishment of our Working Fathers Group, and also by putting on events that are of relevance to those with other types of caring responsibilities. We would like to see this trend continuing into the future.

Furthermore, we have a huge range of ages in our workforce, and many people are juggling care for their parents, for their siblings, for their children, and also grandchildren. Going forward we see our Network as catering for these increasingly challenging caring responsibilities.

Why does the group matter to potential applicants?

We know that balancing the competing pressures of work and family life can be difficult at the best of times. That’s why we introduced agile, flexible working patterns, shared parental leave and a culture that recognises you don’t need to be in the office at all hours to be doing a great job.

Our Family Support Network supports regular reviews of all our policies to help working parents and step-parents; raise awareness of elder care; and support people who care for relatives. We also provide an online portal, where you’ll find a wealth of support, advice and guidance on being a carer while managing your career. All good reasons why we have been named a top ten family friendly employer by work-life balance charity Working Families for the last three consecutive years.

How do you view the outlook personally?

Modern families come in all shapes and sizes these days. Our work in socially deprived communities has shown us that it’s not only 30-somethings who have families – teens and young adults often have caring responsibilities for their siblings, as well as parents. Knowing that we provide extra support to ALL of our colleagues, in a variety of different forms, makes us stand out from the crowd.

Kate Dodd

Kate Dodd

Diversity and Inclusion Consultant

Firm Quote On Diversity:

Without the support and commitment of our people we would not be the successful, growing business that we are today. We work hard to sustain an inclusive culture and a diverse workforce that is representative of all of the clients that we serve and the communities in which we live and work.
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity through all our employment practices. Through our Responsible Business initiatives, we strive to make our business work better for our people, our clients and suppliers, and our local and global communities.