An inter-firm diversity initiative is being launched this month to make the legal sector more accessible to lawyers from multi-cultural backgrounds.
A number of City firms are already on board with the NOTICED (Networking Opportunities to Integrate, Celebrate and Educate on Diversity) scheme, including Hogan Lovells, Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie, Eversheds, Herbert Smith Freehills, Simmons & Simmons, and Mayer Brown International.
The collaborative network aims to offer better support for all legal staff and improve the way firms attract, retain and promote employees from minority groups.
The NOTICED idea came after campaigning charity Business in the Community (BTIC) held a seminar on its Race for Opportunity project, which promotes a more balanced and proportionate representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
Hogan Lovells associate Rashida Abdulai said there was support for the initiative amongst firms because there was a “gap in the market”.
She said: “Quite a few firms had diversity networks, but others didn’t because of a lack of numbers or not enough interest to warrant starting their own.
“We wanted to take things a step further. It means we will be able to reach out to thousands of staff all over the City with a clear and coherent message, share ideas of best practice and how we can achieve the goals.”
NOTICED’s stated ambition is to make the legal industry more accessible, culturally aware and ultimately better equipped to address the challenges of the 21st Century.
As yet, there is not a specific NOTICED diversity policy, but it wants firms to look at how to attract the best lawyers from multi-cultural backgrounds and provide the environment for them to succeed.
Ms Abdulai said the initiative hopes to follow the success of networks such as the LGBT InterLaw Diversity Forum. Last month, insurance lawyers at Norton Rose and Reynolds Porter Chamberlain were amongst the founding members of an LGBT network for the insurance industry called Link.
As well as working with member firms’ existing diversity strategies, NOTICED wants to encourage individuals to interact on a social and professional level to discuss issues on culture, initiate action for change, and celebrate success.
The launch on March 20 includes guest speakers barrister and judge Dr Fayyaz Afzal OBE of No5 Chambers, and Solomon Wifa, managing partner of the London office of US firm O’Melveny and Myers.