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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 is 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 is in its focus period now and has already kicked off with an incredibly impactful panel event. Senior partners and business services directors were all in the front rows to hear experiences from our clients on how their particular ethnic background has shaped their career and their perspective. It was incredibly thought-provoking and the Work Stream are now in the process of planning the next event for the focus.
The Ethnicity Work Stream are also involved in assessing the firm’s data. This was the first year we reported our ethnicity pay gap (although not required to do so) because we want to get out in front of it as early as possible. Members of the Work Stream will be helping the People team going forward, 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 LGBT+ network (we have two that work together: our LGBT+ Work Stream as well as RPC RAIN) are one of the most active inclusion and diversity groups at the firm. They plan a number of events, both internal and external, throughout the year, as well as working with outside organisations such as The Law Society, LINK and Interlaw. Highlights of the past year include walking in London Pride and Bristol Pride, hosting Marcus Morgan to discuss issues that face the bisexual community, holding LGBT+ history sessions, hosting an LGBT+ and disability event with The Law Society and jumping over 60 places to fall just shy of Stonewall’s Top 100 employers. We hope it’s only a matter of time though before we see RPC’s name on that list as our LGBT+ network goes from strength to strength.
The network supported the People team in the creation of trans+ specific inclusive policies for the firm and one of the network’s members recently was awarded Stonewall’s Role Model of the Year for the South West.
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.
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 2019 UK Social Mobility Employer Index.
Disability & long term health conditions
Our Disability ‘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 those who have a disability or long-term health condition. The Work Stream has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that RPC is doing what it can to support its people who have a disability or long-term health condition. Whether its internal policy reviews, garnering information from various research outlets, physical workplace assessments or ensuring we have appropriate equipment on site – the Work Stream is dedicated to ensuring our people are able to work to the best of their abilities.
Our Gender ‘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 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.
The firm has played host to a number of inspirational speakers across the gender sphere. At the end of February 2020, RPC was joined by Michelle King who is a leading expert in gender and organisations. She was previously Head of the Global Innovation Coalition for Change at UN Women and is now the Director of Inclusion at Netflix. Michelle discussed the invisible barriers that can often hold women back at work and how organisations can address them. Senior management from the firm were in attendance and fed back that the event was immensely impactful.
Firm Quote On Diversity:
The ability to attract, develop and retain high calibre people lies at the heart of RPC’s culture and its future business success. We want our workplace to be one where everyone feels welcome, respected, valued, and included so that they can succeed professionally and contribute fully to life at RPC. It makes business sense; it encourages innovation and creativity, and it strengthens relationships with our clients.