Diversity and Inclusion
Equity, diversity, and inclusion at BDB Pitmans
At BDB Pitmans, our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion sits at the heart of who we are as a firm. It affects all areas of law firm life, and strongly informs our approach to working with clients, partners, and the communities we serve.
We are passionate about ensuring we create a work environment where everyone feels safe, respected, and fully supported to be themselves. We celebrate diversity in all its forms, but we also recognise we have a long way to go. We are not afraid to ask difficult questions and make difficult decisions to ensure that we are taking the necessary and right steps to creating a truly equitable workplace.
Our ED&I work, though, goes beyond how we work with our colleagues. Our firm values – we act with respect, we work in partnership, and we find solutions – are deeply embedded in ED&I principles, and heavily inform how we approach client relationships, as well as external partnerships.
We have also taken steps to ensure that our ED&I and CSR work are closely aligned, whether that is through how we choose external partnerships, how we support our charity partners, our pro bono work, or our increased focused on areas such as social mobility.
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Group
E-mail: [email protected]
1 ED&I Strategy Group
ED&I Strategy Group
Our ED&I Strategy Group helps to shape and execute the firm’s ED&I Strategy, developed by our D&I Manager. The group consists of ten members, including two co-chairs, from across all areas and levels at the firm, and our Managing Partner, John Hutchinson, is the group’s executive sponsor.
The Strategy Group is responsible for ensuring that key diversity and inclusion targets are met, and that the strategy and initiatives support and enhance our wider firm strategy. Each member sponsors a key area of ED&I or one of our business impact groups, and is responsible for helping to achieve the goals and actions related to that area or group. They are also expected to actively take part in our ED&I events throughout the year.
Co-chair statement – Lorna du Sautoy & Rob Chidley
We are proud to be the co-chairs of BDB Pitmans’ ED&I Strategy Group, and strongly believe that continuing to enhance, broaden, and embed a comprehensive strategy is a key requirement for the firm as it progresses on its journey. The group itself is diverse, encompassing different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints on ED&I, which we believe make us a strong team. Our focus is to embed strong policies and drive engagement from all members of the firm, whether it be through active allyship or simply a desire to learn more. Without detracting from the importance of the policies themselves, we want to ensure that all members of the firm can clearly, passionately, and proudly tell others about them, promoting a progressive firm and a great place to work. Most importantly, though, we believe investing in ED&I is the right thing to do.
We want to ensure that employees feel valued and are working in an open and non-judgmental environment where they can bring their whole self to work. Endeavouring to create a diverse workplace allows for innovation and a broadening of people’s understanding and awareness. Enabling representation at all levels and access to a diverse pool of prospective employees will not only promote an open firm, but also drive a culture of acceptance and togetherness.
We also know that ED&I and ESG are increasingly considered just as important as legal expertise and pricing when it comes to winning new clients and business and attracting and retaining employees. Law firms are multi-generational environments that require efficient communication to ensure quality client service. Encouraging open dialogue between all employees of the firm, recognising the impact of unconscious bias, and respectfully listening to the opinions of others will improve communication and the quality of our offering for our clients.
Our current Strategy Group
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Group
- Aranya Tharumakunarajah – Associate (planning, infrastructure, and public law)
- Aaron Nelson – Legal Director (planning, infrastructure, and public law)
- Preena Patel – Solicitor (charities)
- Caroline Yarrow – Partner (employment and immigration)
- Farah Desai – Solicitor
2 Business Impact Groups
The firm currently has five Business Impact Groups. Each of the groups has a core committee helping to develop and deliver their strategic plans as well as run an ongoing calendar of education and networking events. All of our groups are open to those who not only identify as part of that group, but also to those who are active allies. You can find out more about each of our groups here.
Best Self, our internal LGBTQ+ group, is for anyone at the firm who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and questioning as well as other sexual and gender identities (such as non-binary, intersex, and pansexual). We want to make people feel fully included in life at the firm and we offer the chance to network with Best Self as well as other groups in the firm, attend events with other firms, and get to know other LGBTQ+ people in the legal sector. We feed into the firm’s D&I Strategy Group and have recently drafted a ‘Transition and Change to Gender Expression Policy’. Allies to (and from) the LGBTQ+ communities are also welcome to join the group to support the work we do.
SHINE is our race, ethnicity, and culture group. Any member of staff who identifies as being of a racial, ethnic, or cultural minority is welcome to join, as well as those who may not be but who share the group’s ethos. We aim to support employees at BDB Pitmans in being their authentic selves, to champion the achievements of our BAME employees and to show that BDB Pitmans is a truly inclusive firm that is passionate about attracting and retaining a diverse range employees.
Mind & Body
Mind & Body is the firm’s health, wellbeing, and disability group. The group’s main aims are to raise awareness and initiate open conversations about disability and health conditions – both mental and physical – to create a more inclusive firm for everyone. The group works with HR to ensure policies are up to date and reflect the needs of staff (prospective as well as existing), including adjustments for people with disabilities.
Breaking Even is our gender equity network. The group’s core aims are to educate members and employees at the firm on what gender equity is and promote how the firm can implement measures to support gender equity; to provide an opportunity for members to share and discuss gender-based issues and experiences; to hold events and support the firm in running initiatives to support gender equity; to be a group for absolutely everyone (gender equity will only be possible with the cooperation of everyone, irrespective of your gender or how you identify); and to use the group as a mechanism to empower individuals and support their development and progression at the firm.
Our Balance group supports the firm’s working parents and carers. As with all our Business Impact Groups, Balance is not only for those who are working parents and carers, but for anyone at the firm who is an ally, or simply wants to better understand the experiences of parents and carers in the workplace. As well as holding events, webinars, and other education opportunities for staff, the group also works closely with HR to discuss issues that impact employees with caring responsibilities/flexible workers/part-time employees, and what improvements can be made to improve life-work balance.
3 Inclusion Champions
Our Inclusions Champions are responsible for:
- raising awareness of diversity and inclusion matters across the firm;
- role modelling the inclusive behaviours we want to see across the firm; and
- providing information, resources, and support to colleagues who may be facing issues relating to diversity and inclusion, whether that’s related to their work or personal lives.
The programme runs on a rolling yearly basis, so that new members are able to join at the beginning of each year. All of our Inclusion Champions receive specialist training, including separate mental health awareness training. We have dedicated Champions in all four offices, and work closely with their Strategy Group sponsor to ensure the feedback and ideas they receive across the firm are highlighted at a strategic level.
Training and education
1 Training and education
At BDB Pitmans, we believe that inclusion is everyone’s responsibility, and our training and education programme reflects that belief.
All staff at the firm undergo yearly inclusion training through our training partner, PDT Global. The training is split across three levels, tailored to a person’s role and level of responsibility at the firm: Inclusion for All, Inclusion for Managers, and Inclusion as a Strategic Driver.
We supplement this mandatory training with year-round opportunities for education.
Every year, we hold a dedicated ED&I Month, and a Health and Wellbeing Fortnight. Our 2021 ED&I events saw record turnout, and covered a range of subjects such as ageism in the workplace; baby loss and miscarriage; why personal pronouns matter; demystifying disability; and how to be a role model for inclusive behaviours. Our 2021 Health & Wellbeing Fortnight offered sessions on sleep, exercise, and nutrition, and we also hosted daily mindfulness sessions.
We also run regular webinar, seminar, and networking events through our five Business Impact Groups, supplemented with blogs and articles that are available on our Intranet.
2 Reciprocal mentoring
In 2021, we launched our first reciprocal mentoring programme with our programme partners The Conversation Space. The 9-month programme sees eight mentors from more junior roles and with diverse backgrounds paired with eight mentees from our senior leadership teams. The overarching goals of the programme are to open up new opportunities for two-way (reciprocal) listening and learning; provide space for mutual understanding and growth; and create an inclusive and welcoming environment where assumptions are challenged, every voice is heard, and everyone can flourish.
3 10,000 Black Interns Programme
We are part of the 10,000 Black Interns programme, which aims to transform the horizons and prospects of young black people in the UK by offering paid work experience, world-class training, and development.
From summer 2022, BDB Pitmans will host four interns (two within our fee-earning teams, and two within our business support teams) for a period of six weeks.
1 LeGal BesT
We are proud to be a founding member of LeGal BesT, a network of mid-size law firms with a focus on issues and support for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) staff. While discussions and events are based on areas mostly affecting LGBT employees, the group is open to anyone with an interest in supporting their LGBT colleagues and diversity in general.
2 The Halo Code
In September 2021, BDB Pitmans was proud to adopt The Halo Code, the UK’s first black hair code. We champion the right of staff to embrace all Afro-hairstyles. We acknowledge that Afro-textured hair is an important part of our Black employees’ racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious identities, and requires specific styling for hair health and maintenance. We celebrate Afro-textured hair worn in all styles including, but not limited to, afros, locs, twists, braids, cornrows, fades, hair straightened through the application of heat or chemicals, weaves, wigs, headscarves, and wraps. In this workplace, we recognise and celebrate our colleagues’ identities. We are a community built on an ethos of equality and respect where hair texture and style have no bearing on an employee’s ability to succeed.
Our adoption of The Halo Code forms part of both our Diversity & Inclusion Policy, and our Dress for Your Day Policy.
3 The Workplace Mental Health Charter
In November 2021, we were awarded Bronze Membership to the Workplace Mental Health Charter. We are committed to providing the best level of mental health support, awareness, and training for all of our staff.
Includability provides a platform for employers with a commitment to treating people fairly, and its goal is to offer job seekers a fully accessible and equitable application process. Through engagement, collaboration and building a community of like-minded people, aims to inspire, break down barriers and make a difference.
In November 2021, BDB Pitmans was proud to become an Includability Committed Employer.
5 Grace & Green
BDB Pitmans is proud to partner with Grace & Green, an independent, female-founded and -led company specialising in sustainable and ethical period care, to provide free period products in all BDB Pitmans office bathrooms. We do this for three key reasons: to support inclusivity; to increase wellbeing; and to help deliver on our CSR commitments.
Additionally, we have made a commitment that for every order we place with Grace & Green, we will make an equal donation of products to both The Trussell Trust and New Beginnings Reading, our London and Reading office charity partners.
Through our partnership with Uptree we work with local schools in order to inspire, attract and hire a workforce that is representative of the communities in which we operate, seeking talent from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds for both business services and legal career opportunities. Through this, we will offer 15 work experience placements annually for students interested in a career in the legal sector.