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Diversity and inclusion We're committed to ensuring that everyone can reach their full potential.

We are passionate about diversity and inclusion and we believe the principles of our core values are underpinned by the desire to make diversity and inclusion part of the lifeblood of the firm. Our core values of radical transparency, teamwork & respect and enterprise are reflected in our demographics and the publication of those demographics.

A message from our Managing Partner

When we first started to try and truly embed a diversity and inclusion strategy into the Firm’s wider goals, I kept repeating it was about two things. First, I wanted to ensure the only barrier to anyone’s success and progression at Weightmans was their own talent and ambition regardless of gender, ethnicity, identity, or disability. Secondly, we would be at the vanguard as an employer of when anyone comes into work at Weightmans they can always be themselves without fear judgment or recrimination. I soon learned there was a third limb that I did not originally fully appreciate of also ensuring we foster an understanding of the background and challenges some of our people face in their everyday lives, as well as celebrating together the diverse cultures that make up the Firm.

As well as creating that environment for our existing people I thought that, with some resource and money, would be enough to see more people, from as many diverse backgrounds as possible expressing an interest in a career with us. I thought that would be enough to see more people that do not look like me, coming from different backgrounds joining us. I wanted, and still want, to have a diverse future leadership cohort who, can not only be role models for others to follow, but help us further understand their journey.

We have lots of legitimate pieces of data about how transparent we are on our progress. I can point to general profession statistics, the types of work we do and even some of our locations and legitimately say I think all things considered we are doing ok. We have however had challenges and difficulties in making the progress I hoped we would. It would be wrong of me not acknowledge this. We have not always got it right (as is the case with so many businesses I suppose) but we are determined to achieve the results that we want.

I very much want us to attract candidates from more diverse backgrounds to improve our diversity gene pool. I especially want to see more people join us from different ethnic backgrounds. There are many things that divide our Firm, but we truly are united by much more and we want to embrace these unifying elements. I do not want us to shy away from having discussions on this issue in an open manner, which is why I have written this piece for our Diversity and Inclusion web page.

I am adamant there is no place here for closed minds in Weightmans, I would repeat my wish for us to a be place where everyone can be their themselves at work and the only barrier to anyone’s success is their ambition and talent. At the same time being able to learn from colleagues of different backgrounds.

I hope more people from many more different backgrounds will think of joining us. You may look different to me, and those of us already here certainly don’t have all the answers, but together we can create a better firm.

John Schorah
John Schorah

Managing Partner

We have initiated our diversity and inclusion action plans for the four main strands of BAME, LGBTQ+, disability and mental wellbeing and gender. Each strand is governed by a strand lead and the strand leads make up part of the firm’s diversity and inclusion steering committee. The committee is supported by 35 diversity and inclusion office champions, spread across our seven sites.

In support of our diversity and inclusion action plan, we have become signatories of the Mindful Business Charter, we have trained 50 employees as Mental Health First Aiders, we are in the process of signing the Law Society’s Women in Law Pledge, we are taking part in the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter Bronze Accreditation Scheme, we are Stonewall Champions and we are looking at ways to improve our BAME inclusion and recruitment.

As of 1 April 2020 Weightmans are signatories to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter. We know that ethnic minorities still face significant disparities in employment and progression, and that is something we need to change. The Charter is composed of five calls to action for leaders and organisations across all sectors. Signing up means taking practical steps to ensure our workplaces are tackling barriers that ethnic minority people face in recruitment and progression and that our organisation is representative of British society today. This step is just one part of our ongoing commitment to equality and inclusion in the workplace.

The primary calls to action are:

  1. Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race
  2. Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress
  3. Commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
  4. Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers
  5. Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression

Part of our commitment to radical transparency is the publishing of our firm's demographics on our website and on our intranet. The data given below is on the basis of our survey of June 2019 and formed the submission to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority in June 2019.

Our survey results represent a response of 756 people out of 1262, a response rate of 59%. We are working towards a 100% response rate by 2021 and will be looking at ways to incentivise responses and adding completion of a diversity data questionnaire into our induction process for new starters. The response rate of 2017 was significantly higher. However, this is due to the data being captured over a much longer period whereas this time around we have taken a snapshot of the firm’s demographics over a much shorter period.

Age

Our results do not show a drastic shift in our age demographics from two years ago. While the response rate has dropped, the pattern with the majority of our partners being in the 45-54 age bracket, remains the same. Our highest demographic is with 25-34 year olds in non-partner solicitor roles.

Gender

For the 2019 survey we had 756 responses on Gender, 22 of which stated that they would prefer not to define. In 2017 we had 1234 responses but of those 1091 chose not to answer this question, therefore a meaningful comparison can not be made. This year’s data shows that women make up 63% of respondents, 54% of responding fee earners (including solicitors, partners and other fee earners) and 31% of responding partners.

Gender identity

In our 2017 survey we had no respondents identifying as being a different gender to registered sex at birth. In this year’s survey 22 of our respondents said that they preferred not to say and 13 said that they identify as a gender different to their registered sex at birth. In light of Weightmans’ recent awareness events around LGBT+ History Month, our sponsorship and joining of Liverpool’s Pride March and our support of Leeds Pride March along with being Stonewall Champions, we can see a direct correlation between cultural changes and our survey responses rates.

Sexual orientation

Against the backdrop of Weightmans making concerted efforts to improve the sense of inclusivity for all our employees, we have seen an increase in the number of people declaring as lesbian, gay and bi in our survey. In addition to the 13 people identifying as trans, we have 29 people declaring as L, G and B with a further four employees declaring as Other, to include asexual and pansexual. Therefore we can see an increase in declared LGBTQ+ employees to 6% of respondents and 3.6% of the firm, compared to 2% of respondents in 2017. Another positive move is that the number of people choosing not to answer the question or using the ‘Prefer not to say’ option has dropped from 128, 10.17% of the firm, to 76, 6% of the firm.

Disability

In 2017 nineteen out of 1234 respondents considered themselves to have a disability in accordance with the Disability Act 2010. In 2019 48 of our 756 respondents consider themselves to have a disability in accordance with the definitions of the Act.

Ethnicity

Of 756 respondents 63, which equates to 8.3% of respondents, are of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. Thirty of the 756 did not respond to the question and 24 preferred not to say. This appears to be a downward turn to 2017’s figures though the overall response rate for this year is lower. Weightmans have committed to an action plan and BAME Strand strategy to improve the attraction and retention of BAME talent to the firm. Eight of our responding partners are from ethnic minority backgrounds and we have set targets to improve this figure to 10% by April 2022 through talent attraction and promotion processes.

Religion

According to our survey, of 756 respondents 257, or 34%, declared that they have no religion or belief while 355 identify as Christian, constituting 47% of respondents. Of those responding 5.3% identify with other religions including Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh.

Social mobility

Weightmans have a number of initiatives and activities ongoing around social mobility, including a mentoring programme in which our trainees help local sixth form students in state education better navigate the pathways of a career into law. The proportion of our employees, solicitors and partners who were educated at State schools and were the first in their families to go to university continues to be in line with the industry average. Of the responding solicitors and partners 29.8% were state school educated while 9.7% attended independent fee paying schools, 38% of those receiving a bursary.

Carers

Supporting carers and parents has long been a priority for Weightmans, reflected in our many family friendly policies including flexible working, health and wellbeing, and maternity and shared parental leave policies. According to the responses to our survey 74 out of 680 respondents to this question are currently caring for someone with long term physical or mental ill health caused by disability or age.

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