Transatlantic firm Eversheds Sutherland has today (19 September) announced new targets to improve BAME representation across its UK partnership, with the firm’s current figures among the worst in the UK’s top 12.
By 2025 the firm wants 10% of its UK partnership to be comprised of BAME lawyers, with the figure currently standing at just over 5%. Throughout its UK workforce, including partners, the firm wants to hit 14% BAME representation by 2022, with the figure currently sitting at just below 12%.
Legal Business analysis in June showed that across the partnerships of the UK’s top 12 firms, just under 7% identified as BAME, with Eversheds co-chief executive Lee Ranson making clear he wanted the firm to markedly improve its record on diversity.
‘The targets show how serious we are about making our workplace an inclusive one,’ Eversheds partner Naeema Choudry told Legal Business. ‘We did research looking at the industry and at other commercial firms and looked across society as a whole and felt these targets are realistic.’
Currently firms are struggling to reconcile diverse trainee intakes with poor BAME representation at partner level. For Eversheds’ 2020 trainee contract cohort, 18% of the candidates identify as BAME, reflecting the industry’s attrition problem on BAME talent. The firm has also committed to disclosing its ethnicity pay gap figures alongside its gender pay gap report starting in 2020.
Choudry is confident the firm can ensure diversity at the junior and senior ends: ‘We’re working with our recruitment agencies to make sure they’re challenging us and we are receiving a diverse pool of talent. There will be other initiatives announced in due course.’
For more on the legal industry’s record on diversity, read Legal Business’ analysis Ticking boxes.