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Diversity at Womble Bond Dickinson:
WBD Pride Network
In 2019 we were proud to launch our WBD Pride network to everyone including allies and colleagues who have friends and relations who are LGBTQ+.
We understand that for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) people work can be a safe haven, perhaps even the place where they first come out. However, it can also be a place where they fear being open about their personal life may lead to discrimination or harassment.
People who feel able to bring their whole selves to work have increased energy, better performance and stronger relationships with their peers. The more you’re forced to be somebody else or hide who you are, the more your happiness and performance at work will be affected. When you spend more time thinking about how to describe your weekend without outing yourself than on that looming deadline, you and your work suffers. Simply put, people perform better when they can be themselves.
The network aims to:
• Provide a space for LGBTQ+ employees to support each other, express concerns they may have and spend time around people who understand their experiences.
• Promote a better understanding of LGBTQ+ inclusion and making LGBTQ+ experiences more visible within WBD.
• Review WBD policies and processes, feedback concerns and suggest improvements. This gives LGBTQ+ employees a critical voice and helps ensure that LGBTQ+ inclusion is embedded across WBD.
Since launching the network has
• Set up a confidential LGBTQ+ email address for those who wish to seek advice or guidance about LGBTQ+ issues within the workplace. The email is monitored by members of the Diversity and Inclusion committee who are LGBTQ+.
• Taken part in several PRIDE events and collaborated with Building Equality (BE) who work with an alliance of construction firms joining forces to drive LGBTQ+ inclusion in the construction industry. With over 150 people attending the event held in our Leeds office.
• Submitted our first submission for the Stonewall Equality Index.
• Created a new gender identity policy.
Our BAME Network exists to support the firm in achieving Ethnic Diversity & Inclusion at all levels. Our ‘Diversity’ commitment is concerned with ensuring we are recruiting a diverse pool of talent whilst our ‘Inclusion’ commitment is concerned with ensuring we maintain a diverse workforce via an inclusive culture and policy.
The network is not only open to people of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity, but, it actively encourages the participation of BAME champions who do not necessarily possess BAME heritage but are passionate about Ethnic Diversity & Inclusion issues. The input of our BAME champions is vital to having a healthy and balanced discussion about what we as a firm can be doing to better speak to the needs of our BAME people, as well as the needs of our BAME champions who may at times feel apprehensive about discussions around race and ethnicity.
The network is open to all lawyers as well as our support staff. Our current membership includes lawyers as well as people from our business development teams and facility management teams.
Since the launch of the network we have been focusing on the following:
• Share personal experiences and have non-judgemental discussion.
• Be inward-facing as well as outward-facing to help us all work together.
• Understand why we have so few BAME lawyers (and so few in leadership positions) do we want to re-word this.
• Learn how we can attract and retain more BAME lawyers so that we are more representative of society, and – increasingly – our clients.
• Ensure our BAME people have the same opportunities as their non-BAME counterparts.
Since launching the network has:
• Celebrated Black History Month in October 2019
• Hosted a number of specialist speakers on social mobility and confidence at work as well as holding a panel discussion event ‘Spotlight on BAME diversity: the value of difference’, attended by both clients and employees.
• Shared case studies on how discrimination has played a role in the lives of our BAME community.
Health and Wellbeing
We understand how important it is for everyone to live healthy lives. In support of this, we don’t just focus on the health benefits and insurances that are offered to our people but we engage with them to find out what matters to them individually and what might help them to live well, improve their wellbeing and be happy at work.
Encouraging people to stay active and get up and away from their desks as often as is possible, we offer discounts on gym memberships, organise sporting clubs / events, promote walking events and run classes at our offices. We also encourage healthy eating, with every office receiving free fresh fruit every Tuesday, “Fruit Choose-Day”, and all of our cafes offering healthy food choices.
Health and Wellbeing Campaigns include:
• Supporting Women’s and Men’s Health, with specific health awareness campaigns, inviting specialists to talk to about specific female and male cancers.
• Championed initiatives such as Movember and men’s mental health.
• Started an open discussion around the menopause, inviting an external speaker for a firm-wide event to raise awareness and we are now working with colleagues to identify additional measures to support men and women who are impacted by the menopause.
• Highlighting and raining awareness of mental health in various awareness weeks and encouraging people to be more honest and open about their needs and experiences by inviting guests to speak to us about things such as the stress bucket, body image and mindfulness.
• Promote the range of support available to people, such as counselling through our Employee Assistance programme, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and dedicated intranet pages on Health and Wellbeing.
• We have over 35 Mental Health First Aiders across the business from various roles, trained to provide first line support and help promote wellbeing initiatives including ‘tea and talk’ sessions throughout the year where colleagues are encouraged to take some quiet time away from their desks.
• Our HR team also spend time supporting people with their mental health through regular one to one meetings, occupational health referrals and wellness at work plans.
• We support flexible working, which can be used to simply give people time to recharge batteries or pursue a hobby. 44% of our workforce have some kind of formal flexible working in place whether that is part time hours, compressed hours or working from home regularly.
• We always try to be mindful of people’s lives outside of work, respecting down time and actively encouraging people to take their holidays.
• We offer enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption pay, have an established family mentoring scheme, roll out parenting seminars twice a year and are in the process of launching a family network.
Firm Quote On Diversity:
We strive to create a diverse and inclusive culture to attract and retain the very best people.
Whether with clients, employees or suppliers; building relationships is a part of our culture, in which we nurture a spirit of equality, fairness and respect for all. These qualities make us a better business and is integral to a successful workplace.
To ensure that diversity and inclusion is at the foundation of our business, we collaborate on a variety of activities, campaigns and initiatives both internally and externally.
Diversity and Inclusion is a priority for the Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential, and to be themselves whilst encouraging one another to achieve our goals with courage, determination and enthusiasm