Case study

Gender diversity in Law

A company-wide programme on unconscious bias and the formation of cultures moves the needle for inclusion.

The challenge

A common barrier to truly inclusive and equitable workplaces is achieving demonstrable, genuine buy-in on an intellectual level. Many well-intentioned people understand that there is a need for diversity, but hold this at face value without any manifestation in their day-to-day work. Recognising this, the London office of an international law firm approached Byrne Dean to help them make their approach to ED&I more ingrained in their decisions and behaviours. Their ratio of females at Partner level was one of the lowest in the industry, and they wanted to build a more balanced and meritocratic culture that would help them to advance and retain their senior female staff.

The solution

To empower this business to attain ED&I buy-in on a stakeholder and cultural level, we developed a company-wide programme with two streams. Senior leaders took part in discussion-based roundtables that aimed to unpick their individual daily decision-making processes, and understand how these would inevitably be grounded in unconscious bias - How are our decisions really made? Why do we trust certain people over others? Why do women in our business feel sidelined? We showed them the self-fulfilling cycles that develop from such bias, and how they were affecting the performance of the firm. For this approach to work, the facilitation of the sessions were expert, conversational and impact-focused, rather than intention-focused. Meanwhile, high energy, auditorium-style behaviour discussions were held for everyone else in the business, geared towards understanding their role in creating a culture through relatable situations that reflected daily life in the firm. These sessions were both followed up with regular next-steps workshops to guide them on their inclusion journey, and after tremendous success in London, were rolled out across all their offices around the world, including China, France, Italy and Dubai.

The impact

Behaviour change is a long-term process, and in the years following the work, the firm has shown tremendous tangible evidence of internalising inclusivity and achieving management buy-in; an objective analysis showed them to be one of the most successful firms in their sector at boosting gender diversity within their Partners. Part of this includes the creation of a Partner role specifically dedicated to overseeing gender equality - unheard of in Law - and they have been awarded multiple accolades specifically around being a positive workplace for women. We have since become a long-term partner with the firm on more nuanced ED&I areas, including providing training on more conscious decision-making in recruitment and partner promotion, and training the listening skills of participants of their reverse mentoring scheme based on ethnicity. We’re exceptionally proud of their progress and to be their trusted partners.

Let’s get connected.

Our highly experienced team of behaviour and wellbeing experts are here to help. Drop us a line for world class guidance and advice.