Hello everyone, my name is Louisa Awolaja. I'm part of the DEl Team based in London, and I lead the firm's work to deliver our race strategy. In my role, I work closely with Aedamar Comiskey and Andy Vickery as our ExCom Race Champions.
We're proud to publish our Year 3 Race Action Plan report and to share some of the work that's been done around the firm to advance racial equity.
So, we had 3 priorities for the Race Action plan this year:
improving retention of our Black and minority ethnic colleagues.
building leadership accountability to deliver on our DEI initiatives locally, and
embedding the Race Action Plan globally, in particular supporting our teams in Asia and Europe to advance racial equity in the context of their local demographics and culture.
What have been your highlights or areas of focus as Race
I've been focused on building greater leadership accountability, engaging more of our leaders to think about how they can support Black and under-represented minority talent in their teams.
A particular highlight for me was inviting Julian Richard from extense to come in and share the findings from The 1% Study with us. This research looked into the career experiences of the 1% of Black Partners here in the UK.
I took two things away from that session:
First - we already have many of the initiatives recommended in The 1% Study findings in place, things like our reverse mentoring and sponsorship programmes, the INspire programme, looking at work allocation through the DEl lens.
But the work we need to do is about engaging with our people and embedding these initiatives consistently in every part of the firm.
Second - the environment we create locally in our teams has the biggest impact on performance, discretionary effort, retention, and progression of talent, and building trust. As leaders and owners of the firm, we are accountable for the experience our people have at the firm and for the representation of diverse talent in our teams. If we want change, we each have to take ownership and action to intentionally include people.
As you know Lou we are now working together with Dorothea Bannerman-Bruce and others to think about further training, how we can empower our leaders to support their teams and manage diverse talent, help everyone reach their potential and help us achieve our goals around retention and representation at all levels.
For me there's been lots of highlights, and it's really hard to choose but I guess one thing that really stood out, is the increased interest from clients in working collaboratively with their law firms and other advisors to drive change across the legal sector.
And if I take the GC for D& as an example, that's a group of General Counsel for many organisations who have come together to focus on increasing diversity across the legal profession, and it's a terrific initiative. We are working very closely with them along with many of our peer firms on many strands of diversity and it's really terrific to see the number of organisations who are getting involved to continue to increase significantly since the inception of GC for D&l a few years ago. Because the more that organisations focus on improving diversity and inclusion the better it will be for all of us.
As we wrap up this conversation, what have you each learned in your role as a race champion over the last vear?
So for me it's been about the impact each and every one of us can have on the experiences of our colleagues around the firm.
I remember at the global Partners conference this year we heard from Executive Leadership Coach - René Carayol, and something he said really stuck with me. He said - 'small things are everything' And these are the things that people remember. How you treated them and how you made them feel.
So, paying more attention to this every day in our interactions with colleagues and standing in the shoes of others to better understand their perspectives, will really help us with our talent retention goals.
I completely agree with that Aedamar - we can all make a difference to how others experience Linklaters. And it's often the small things we can all do in the day-to-day that make the biggest difference.
For me, one thing is increasingly clear and that's how important it is to ask questions and really listen to the diverse views and perspectives we have across the firm.
I've learnt lots from the catch ups we've had with our Race Champions, from the insights and feedback from our Black Diversity Council and from the questions and feedback I hear from you all during townhalls, office visits and group prayers.
And as Aedamar said earlier, increasingly from the feedback and ideas shared by our clients too.
It means I think I better understand how prople who are different to me and in different roles in the firm, are experiencing our culture which we treasure. And what more we can to do to make sure everyone at Linklaters experiences an inclusive environment, where our talented people can perform at their best, meet their potential and ultimately enjoy what they do.
Thanks for joining me today and I look forward to working with you both to agree our priorities for Year 4 of the Race
and thank you all for watching.
Hello, my name is Colin Chang, I am a Partner in Leveraged Finance and Chair of the Black Diversity Council.
Since joining the BDC two years ago, it has given me great pleasure to see the engagement and community built by many of our Black and minority ethnic colleagues across the firm. The Council has served as a platform for people to share their views, feedback and suggestions, with the knowledge and confidence that action will be taken.
It is heartening to see the leadership of the firm engaging with this topic, taking on feedback and leaning into decisions that reflect the various perspectives and needs of colleagues across the firm.
Hi, I am Sonia Cissé, one of the members of our global Black Diversity Council (BDC) I represent the European region.
It is great to see the impact the BDC has had over the past two years. A big part of our role has been engaging with colleagues across the world to better understand their day-to-day experience of the firm and the local impact of the Race Action Plan.
In particular, our quarterly forums for Black and minority ethnic colleagues around the global firm have proven to be immensely invaluable, bringing people together and providing opportunities for open and honest discussion – a real highlight in the past year!
Hi, I am Femi Olukoya from the HR Systems team, one of the members of our global Black Diversity Council. I represent the Business Teams in the UK.
With a strong focus on retention, we dedicated the past year to connecting with recent and past leavers to better understand their experiences and gather feedback through a series of exit interviews. We are committed to ensuring that these insights are taken on board by the firm.
We are closely connected to the Race Action Plan Steering Group, and as a subcommittee of the firm's People Committee, we have a direct line into senior leadership. Earlier this year, we presented findings from the exit interviews and recommendations from our local community engagement to the firm's Executive Committee.
It is powerful to serve as representatives for our community, and to know that we have a voice at the table, making a difference to the culture of Diversity Equity and Inclusion within our firm. Please do come and talk to us!