Head of Diversity & Inclusion

Experience level: Advanced
Term: Permanent
Working hours: Full-time
Team: HR
Location: National role with travel to office network
The firm

A leading UK law firm with a network of offices from the South Coast to Scotland, working together as one national team. An innovative practice and the first top 100 law firm to achieve “Gold Standard” Investors in People, our values and culture are not just words on our website but are the heartbeat of the firm. The lack of barriers between departments, a real lack of hierarchy, zero tolerance for arrogance and pomposity makes Shoosmiths a fantastic place to work.

The team

To thrive as a law firm, we need difference. Difference of thought and perspective, difference in perception and approach to challenges. Our diversity and inclusion mission aims to help attract and nurture a diverse group of staff and to create an environment and culture that is genuinely inclusive; where every member of staff feels valued for their contribution to the firm. In doing this we will ensure we have the best people, that they are happy and confident in developing great relationships and are capable of delivering fantastic results and a unique service to our clients.

We have an excellent track record, and have achieved significant recognition for encouraging diversity in the legal profession:

  • We have been awarded Gold status in the Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Charter
  • We were the first UK legal practice to gain a Gold Standard Equality Assured Recruitment (EQA) accreditation
  • We have regularly featured at the top of the Black Solicitors Network Diversity League Table
  • Over the years the firm has been shortlisted for, and won many awards for Diversity and Inclusion including a Commendation for Diversity by LawCareers.net (LCN) in 2018.

 We aim to build on this success.

We can measure our success via the applications we receive, and who we recruit. But for us it's not about percentages, we recognise that work in this area will be ongoing and we know that our continued success depends on our people and their talent, ambition, creativity and drive. Therefore, we actively seek and support people who have the talent and potential to help us thrive – regardless of their background, beliefs and circumstances.

The role of Head of D&I is to further our ambitions in this area and drive forward the HR Inclusion Imperative Strategy.  We have embarked upon this strategy over the next three years in order for the firm to achieve its stated goal of:

  • Enhancing its reputation as a diverse, innovative and modern employer, recognised by peers and market as such.

 Research undertaken by Deloitte and McKinsey states that 80% of workers say inclusion is an important factor in choosing an employer and 72% of people would leave an organisation for a more inclusive one; hence our statement of inclusion imperative.

Our inclusion imperative includes the following, current initiatives:

  • continued focus upon the firm’s values as the framework for internal behaviour which will drive inclusivity;
  • positive action to address the firm’s gender pay gap including this programme and revised recruitment practices (i.e. ensuring all long lists are gender equal or an explanation as to why they are not);
  • awareness raising to achieve greater understanding of the views and needs of minority groups such as women (in senior roles), our LGBTQ community and those with disability;
  • review of parental leave support;
  • succession planning;
  • improved mentoring support; and
  • improving wellbeing in the workplace for all.
The role
  • Work with the HRD to drive forward the Inclusion Imperative strategic aim
  • Support, develop and encourage internal affinity groups to maximise understanding and engagement across the business
  • Identify and promote new actions and activities that will further diversity, inclusion and wellbeing across the firm
  • Establish a range of inclusion benchmarks, both internally and externally based to build upon the firm’s strong reputation in the sector for diversity, inclusion and wellbeing, with work being recognised by a number of awards.
  • Develop a wellbeing offering that extends beyond physical wellbeing with a particular focus on mental health.
  • Increase employee engagement in diversity, inclusion and wellbeing using resulting employee feedback to develop actions to improve culture
  • Ensure diversity, inclusion and wellbeing ambitions are transparent to all stakeholders, both internal and external
  • Ensure accountability for diversity, inclusion and wellbeing at a senior level
  • Work with Directorate Heads to build a diverse workforce, able to respond to a diverse client base
  • Cultivate an inclusive working environment that leverages the benefits of diversity and values the contribution of all staff
  • Identify and address barriers to inclusion within our structures
  • Develop and implement the necessary internal policies and processes that meet the needs of our staff in this area
  • Foster innovation and creative thinking in the development of diversity, inclusion and wellbeing initiatives within the firm
  • Champion the needs of all minority groups and influence senior stake holders in the benefits of a diverse business
  • Work collaboratively with colleagues across the business in pursuit of inclusion goals
  • Establish clear communication structures and channels to promulgate inclusion messages
  • Drive consistency of the inclusion experience across all offices and departments

1 Direct Report – FT Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Officer

Skills and qualifications

The successful candidate should possess most of the following qualities:

  • Insight into the dynamics of a partnership culture
  • A mature, influential disposition – able to demonstrate significant impact through previous Inclusion or equivalent roles on business performance and business partnering relationships with senior management and the Board
  • Strong analytical skills and strategic vision
  • A collaborative and flexible style with a strong ‘client service’ orientation
  • Able to facilitate change decisively but sensitively, understanding that the partnership model embraces change at a moderate pace and acts democratically
  • Strategic vision and the ability to synthesise the bigger picture from Inclusion data, but with the attention to detail required in a law firm
  • Excellent communication skills both written and oral – able to paint a picture and be persuasive, presenting information and ideas in ways which are meaningful to law firm partners
  • Developed leadership ability, particularly gained in an organisation and/or sector experiencing change

We consider this to be a Level 4 Competency position.

Equal opportunities

Shoosmiths is a committed Equal Opportunities employer promoting equality of opportunity. This means that everyone who either applies to or works for the firm is treated equally, whatever their gender, age, ethnic origin, nationality, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.