Diversity and Inclusion
Virtually everyone that I work with knows that my "extra-curriculars" are a fundamental part of my work at Herbert Smith Freehills. As a black woman who went to a state school and grew up on a council estate, it perhaps isn't entirely surprising that matters of diversity and social mobility are close to my heart. However more than purely being self-interested, having grown up and worked with people from a broad range of backgrounds I have always had the privilege of witnessing the immense value that comes from understanding the viewpoints of people whose experiences differ from my own.
For me, it should be self-evident that there are significant benefits that come from having a plurality of perspectives in practically any decision-making process, and you no longer have to look far to find articles and studies recognising the tangible benefits that come from workplace diversity. At Herbert Smith Freehills there are numerous opportunities to get involved with diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, from the various networks (such as the Ability Network, the Family Network and the Women Lawyers' Network) to corporate social responsibility programmes including PRIME and Networked.
“As a trainee I was a co-chair of HSF's Women Trainee Lawyers' Network, the City's first women's network for trainee lawyers.”
As a trainee I was a co-chair of Herbert Smith Freehill's Women Trainee Lawyers' Network, the City's first women's network for trainee lawyers. The WTLN was the brainchild of three (then) trainees, who identified the value of addressing gender-related issues of career progression at an early stage, and pushed to make their vision a reality. This experience showed me the possibilities that existed within the firm to, with passion and persistence, implement new ideas to promote a more dynamic and inclusive culture.
Since qualification I have been involved in a range of D&I initiatives, including organising the firm's annual Multiculturalism in the City event and hosting work experience placements for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. As a member of the firm's Multiculturalism Network Committee I have the opportunity to help shape the firm's agenda on a broad range of issues including race, religion and culture. My current focus is the creation of a pilot reverse mentoring programme at the firm, through which management and senior staff will be able to deepen their knowledge of the experience of members of the firm who are from different backgrounds to them, be it because of their race, gender, sexuality, etc. Through this opportunity for an open exchange of ideas and perspectives, our aim is to help organically foster an inclusive culture across the firm whilst also strengthening our ability to provide clients with innovative solutions to their requirements.