Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that Mills & Reeve has been recognised as a Bronze Trailblazer.
Mills & Reeve has been recognised for their thorough and firm engagement of data to determine quantifiable strategies that effectively promote inclusivity, diversity, access and education. Mills & Reeve has shown a commitment not just internally but externally through their collaboration, providing internships to those from ethnically diverse backgrounds to remove barriers and provide informative and educational experiences.
Internally, Mills & Reeve partnered with Pirical to analyse workforce data and set external benchmarks to improve recruitment and representation within their organisation. The firm received a 91.1% response rate in diversity monitoring which demonstrated trust and participation from colleagues, and their strategies were informed by those with lived experience. Race Equality Matters’ independent panellists have showcased and celebrated this through the Trailblazer recognition. 100% of the judges considered Mills & Reeve to have taken decisive action on tackling racial inequality and 85.7% of judges considered them the type of organisation they would like to work for.
Actions and Initiatives
Collaboration, Partnership and the Reach into Schools Programme
Mills & Reeve has shown a dedication to reducing barriers to entry and opened their firm up to provide education and opportunity for those who may not otherwise be aware of/have access to it. Their Reach network led on the creation of a development award. In 2022, for the second year running, they provided a Reach development award in partnership with Birmingham Black Lawyers, which provided an opportunity for two law students from ethnically diverse backgrounds to win a £1,000 bursary, a week of work experience, and mentoring from a senior lawyer. The network also signed off on participation in the 10,000 Black Interns Programme. In addition, the Reach network has launched ‘Reach into Schools’ which saw each of their offices partner with a local school that has a student body with a high proportion of individuals from ethnically diverse or socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The judges described this activity as demonstrating a ‘positive focus for the organisation that shows time and commitment.’
Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing strategy
Mills & Reeve also shared within their application that their Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing strategy included a specific objective to address representation of individuals from ethnically diverse backgrounds at all levels across the organisation. The firm joined LegalCORE (Commitment on Race and Equality), a leadership-led, cross-firm collective aimed at tackling the underrepresentation of ethnically diverse groups in the UK legal sector. This activity led judges to believe that they have demonstrated ‘innovative, forward thinking’ that could remove barriers to the sector as a whole which is invaluable to creating inclusive and diverse workforces for the future.
Recruitment and Retention
Within the organisation there have also been initiatives introduced for the recruitment, retention and progression of staff. The Reach network has run a peer-to-peer mentoring programme, and all of those who receive a promotion also receive anti-bias training which judges felt could truly facilitate a ‘changing culture’ as individuals progress their careers at the firm.
One of the judges praised the application as ‘very strong with lots of evidence from people that have lived experience. The increase in the overall recruitment of multicultural candidates shows a clear focus.’
Impact and Ethnically Diverse Staff Endorsement
- Representation of people from ethnically diverse backgrounds across the firm has increased from 10% in April 2021 to 11.4% currently.
- People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups accounted for 21% of lateral hires in 2021/22 compared with 18% in 2020/21 and 13% in 2019/20.
- All-employee staff engagement survey takes place every two years, and all respondents are asked their ethnicity so that data analysis can take into account the experiences of different ethnic groups.
- The last survey – in 2021 – showed no significant negative differences in the workplace experiences of individuals from ethnically diverse groups. In fact, those with Black/Black British heritage were more likely to be highly engaged in their role and at the firm.
- Where smaller negative differences in experience are identified, a process is in place to ensure that this is followed through by actions to address the issue. For example: respondents of Asian/Asian British heritage and from mixed/multiple ethnic groups felt less confident than people from other groups in challenging the way the firm does things; a Respect at Work programme that has recently started includes plans to empower people to challenge, both when microaggressions are witnessed or experienced and more generally how things are done.
Judges consistently commended the evidence of Mills & Reeve and described their application as ‘very detailed answers with data to sustain their achievements : good measures and reflections on what worked well and what needed to improve’ and further that ‘the work that has been/being done to analyse the diversity monitoring data is good, and the community outreach work is also amazing and no doubt impactful.’
To increase inclusion (and therefore retention and overall representation), they have recently launched a Respect at Work Programme. In 2022/23, a series of awareness sessions and training opportunities aimed at increasing people’s knowledge of microaggressions and their impact began. In addition, plans are in place for 2023 to establish deeper analysis of recruitment statistics. Whilst data is currently available, the firm plans to conduct a more in-depth review of the performance of ethnically diverse individuals at various recruitment stages, to ensure equity in the process. Where data is lacking, they plan to address this in the coming year.
They are also planning to increase the number of interns they take on as part of the 10,000 Black Interns programme, hosting them across several of their offices in 2023.
Follow Mills & Reeve’s Lead: Become a Trailblazer
If your organisation is driving change for Race Equality and you can demonstrate impact, endorsement from ethnic background employees and share future plans; register your interest for the next round of trailblazers.