Pippa Marler, diversity and inclusion lead at law firm Weightmans, said her firm’s diversity strategy had begun with efforts to improve inclusivity.
She said: “Data is one of the most important things you can use for any Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) project.
“You might not realise it, but look at your data and, depending on your size, you’ll undoubtedly find out you do have people in your organisation who are living with hidden disabilities that affect their ability to do their job, for example, or people who don’t recognise the gender they were assigned at birth.
“There will be people who are not out as their true selves for fear of that limiting their progression.
“They are there even if you don’t know they are there.”
Armed with that data, Weightmans was then able to enhance its inclusivity, setting up an LGBTQ network, hosting activities for Black History Month and installing gender neutral bathrooms.
But the panel also warned that the road to diversity may not be smooth and stressed how important it is to get people comfortable having difficult conversations.
Rachel said: “Organisations say they want diversity but are then surprised when it leads to some challenging conversations.
“Actually, what we want is challenge and diversity of thought.
“So, what are the tools that can help with that? We’ve rolled out restorative practice across the whole organisation to ensure everyone has their voice heard.”
“And we’re developing our leadership capability to ensure inclusive leadership is our default style and supports our fair and inclusive culture - this includes everything from the way we recruit to how we encourage employee voice.”
Rachel also hailed the potential of remote working to improve diversity, which means firms can recruit from a larger pool of people, giving them access to a more diverse selection of applicants.
Flexible working practices also support colleagues with caring commitments, who might otherwise be excluded from the world of work.