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Diversity at RPC:
Our Ethnicity ‘Work Stream’ is one of our largest and most popular Work Streams at RPC. It forms part of the firm’s eight inclusion and diversity internal networks. Its members are all self-appointed people from across the firm who are passionate about moving the dial in relation to ethnicity balance in the workplace. We know the issues that ethnic minorities face at work are widespread and not specific to the legal sector, but at RPC we are not willing to accept that. It is imperative that we continue to attract and retain the best talent – irrespective of a person’s background or what they look like. Diversity and inclusion are better for business and for our people. So who wouldn’t want to strive for that?
The Ethnicity Work Stream meets regularly to discuss what challenges people from minority backgrounds face in the workplace and what measures we can implement at RPC to address such challenges. We know there is a lot of work to do but we are committed to doing it. At RPC each of our inclusion and diversity Work Streams, while working all year round, have a six-month spotlight at the firm. The Ethnicity Work Stream had its focus during 2020 where the Work Stream put on a number of panel events with both internal and external speakers focusing on topics such as race and diversity in the workplace. The Work Stream also created an open letter and resource pack to employees in response to BLM.
The Ethnicity Work Stream are also involved in assessing the firm’s data. Last year was the first year we reported our ethnicity pay gap (although not required to do so) because we wanted to get out in front of it as early as possible. We have recently published our current figures. Members of the Work Stream support the People team, to analyse the data and map trends in relation to things like retention and progression of ethnic minorities at RPC. We think this will help us put in place specific, targeted measures, to ensure we continue to promote ethnicity balance across the firm.
Our Social Mobility ‘Work Stream’ forms part of the firm’s eight inclusion and diversity internal networks. Its members are all self-appointed people from across the firm who are passionate about moving the dial in relation to social mobility. The Work Stream supports two mentoring schemes – one in Dagenham and one in Bristol – at schools where the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The mentoring programmes run for much of the school year and provide, not just networking opportunities for the students, but also training in relation to CV writing, interview skills and raising confidence.
The Work Stream also supports the firm’s work with Rare Recruitment – a contextualised recruitment tool that puts a person’s application in context of their personal circumstances. And the Work Stream supports the firm’s work with Aspiring Solicitors and we host a number of AS Open Days each year. Off the back of our close working relationship with Aspiring Solicitors, RPC became a founding member of the Aspiring Solicitors Foundation, the charitable arm of the organisation. We are committed to working towards levelling the playing field for those talented individuals who might otherwise struggle to get the same career advancement opportunities as others.
The Social Mobility Work Stream have also recently been a part of the Levelling up Law project. A project seeing a number of City Law firms working together to publish an action plan to boost social mobility and widen opportunities within the legal sector.
Because of the committed and fantastic work of the Work Stream, together with members of our People Team, we were ranked in the Top 75 Employer in the 202019 UK Social Mobility Employer Index.
Our Gender ‘Work Stream’ aims to support in moving the dial in relation to gender balance in the workplace. The Work Stream is led by the firm’s Chief Financial Officer and a Legal Director. The Work Stream members meet regularly to identify and discuss any issues that the firm needs to address and to deliver events with a gender focus – whether it be learning, inspirational or networking.
In late 2019, the firm signed the Law Society’s Women in Law Pledge and committed to implementing a 15-point ‘Gender Balance Plan’. The Plan not only sets a target for the firm to have senior female representation of at least 30% but it also identifies numerous other areas where gender imbalance can occur and proposes certain actions to address them. The Plan, for example, identifies areas where we can establish better gender balance in relation to events, recruitment, communications, etc.
The firm, with input from the Work Stream, relies on its gender pay gap figures to gauge success and the trend since our 2017 report is that the overall gap is decreasing.
In early 2020, the firm announced its new partnership with the Reignite Academy and the subsequent arrival of three new associates into the firm. The Reignite programme is designed to provide opportunities for experienced lawyers to return to the profession after a career hiatus. Not only does it provide access back into the progression for those (most often women) who have not worked for a period of time, but it also provides the firm with access to an untapped talent pool.
In terms of external or client-facing initiatives, in April 2013, RPC launched the Female Insurance Group (FIG), a network aimed at putting women from across the insurance industry in touch with one another for support and professional development. Since the launch, FIG has over 450 members from across insurance and related industries. FIG also hosts events and workshops to provide its members with access to women who have made it to board level or similar senior positions, to share their insight into the challenges to expect and how to overcome them.
RPC’s Gender Work Stream is currently in the middle of its six month focus period. The Work Stream have put on a number of events and initiatives with both internal and external speakers supporting our Gender Balance Plan.
Firm Quote On Diversity:
It’s easy to sign a Charter or a Pledge. What’s harder and more important is the work behind the headline. Inclusion and diversity are trendy buzzwords these days but what do they really mean? For us, they represent belonging and loyalty. Challenging the status quo. Creative problem solving. Empathy. Ensuring equal access to opportunity. And valuing each individual for who they are. Because really we are all “diverse”; a collection of experiences. And those experiences, if we are willing to listen to them and learn from them, have the power to frame our collective thinking and approach for the better.