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.
We have recently 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.