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26/08/2021

Passion and drive for diversity and inclusion at Thursfields

Stewart Coles Nicola Pearce

Thursfields Solicitors’ commitment to diversity and inclusion at every level has won national attention.

Managing director Michelle O’Hara and HR director Jade Linton have been spearheading a firm-wide drive to ensure that inclusion is at the heart of everything the firm does.

Michelle said: “We are passionate innovators around diversity and inclusion at a regional law firm level. 

“Using novel work schemes to give wider access to the profession, becoming a Living Wage Foundation employer, committing to Level-Up pay gap reviews and sharing our lived experiences as legal professionals – we seek to make a difference.”

The firm’s management team began making changes in support of greater diversity and inclusion two years ago.  These included the introduction of a scholarship programme with Aston University Law School which gives students from under-represented groups a “day a week” work experience for two years to support social mobility to the profession.

The firm also introduced a “redacted” application form for trainee recruitment selection, specifically removing the university institution name to minimise bias, and started a reverse mentoring scheme to give the firm’s leadership a fresh and inclusive perspective on leadership, strategy and mindset.  And it recognizes it has much more work to do.

Jade Linton said: “Diversity is a fact – inclusion is a behaviour.

“Inclusion is more than championing so-called ‘minority groups’, it is about bringing everyone into the conversation and fostering genuine understanding. 

“Our organisation is learning and growing in confidence, facing the discomfort of awkward conversations around race, gender and sexuality in support of our ‘One Team’ Value.

“Often businesses engage in diversity and inclusion to avoid ‘getting into trouble’, or because it ‘ticks a box’. 

“This is not our motivation, and we should say upfront that we are not the finished article. This is a journey, not a destination.”

And the firm’s initiatives have been a big hit with staff throughout the firm who have valued this approach and the firm’s commitment to honest conversations around how to effect change in this arena.

The firm-wide approach has now been recognised with Thursfields being short-listed as a finalist in The Law Society’s Excellence in Law Awards 2021 which will be celebrated in an online ceremony on Thursday 7 October.

Michelle said: “We are really pleased to have been selected as finalists and are keen to connect and work with other regional professional service firms who have a similar passion to effect genuine and lasting change in D & I. So please do get in touch.”

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