ETHNIC DIVERSITY & INCLUSION AT A LAW FIRM

A global law firm has a team of four full-time diversity professionals in EMEA working to create a welcoming work environment where everyone can be themselves and perform at their best.

Why? ‘We want the best lawyers and business profession- als to work for us – and to create innovative, modern solu- tions for our clients,’ said Leah Dunlop, head of Corporate & Finance for Hogan Lovells in Italy. ‘Our clients increasingly demand that we pay attention to diversity and inclusion but – more importantly – treating all our people with the same dignity and respect is morally and ethically the right thing to do.’ Studies show that employees at firms that value the diversity of their people are happier, more productive and more creative, in turn making the firm more successful. Em- ployers that focus on inclusion and diversity can recruit from a larger pool of applicants and are more attractive to pro- spective employees.

How can law firms – traditionally conservative organisations with little ethnic diversity – become more diverse? Hogan Lovells made diversity & inclusion a top priority worldwide and was the first global firm to commit to concrete gender diversity goals for partners.


LEAH DUNLOP, head of Corporate & Finance for Hogan Lovells in Italy

Additional goals for ethnically and racially diverse partners and LGBTQ+ partners followed last year in other jurisdictions, where permitted. New policies requiring greater diversity in the pitch process, and reward- ing lawyers who contribute to our diversity programmes, are building momentum. We trained our recruiting and HR team on the importance of inclusive language and made significant changes to our recruiting channels. Training our people on the real-life effects of unconscious bias, micro-aggressions and inclusive language drives home that everyone benefits from incorporating diversity principles into our working environment. Our employee resource group REAHL (Race and Ethnicity at Hogan Lovells) meets regularly and hosts events with employees and clients to address ethnic diversity specifically.

Language is a powerful tool for lawyers to explain, persuade and seek compromises. Communication in large organisa- tions like ours is complex: some people communicate in their first language, while others use a foreign language. This is one driver for Hogan Lovells’ focus on inclusive language, a topic that bridges all diversity dimensions: ethnic and racial diver-


CHRISTINE ANSON-MORGAN, 1966, Mount Holyoke College, A.B., Advisor,
Diversity & Inclusion and Wellbeing, EMEA

sity, gender diversity, sexual orientation and more. The words and expressions we use to talk about other people have the power to exclude them and devalue their lives and experi- ences. The language we use reveals who we are and how we treat the people around us: our employees and candidates, clients, suppliers and business partners. Using inclusive lan- guage shows we think about everyone who is receiving our message, and increases the visibility of all groups of people in our firm and in our network. We fight bias and stereotypes with inclusive language, opening the door to new and future clients, vendors and employees.

What is inclusive language and how can you and your organisation use it? Here are some examples:
• Ethnic diversity: Phrases evoking ethnicity may have negative connotations. Instead of ‘Chinese walls’ we now say ‘information barrier’ when discussing confidentiality in a legal context. Describing a person as ‘exotic’ separates them from the rest of the group, emphasising a foreign quality. Using ‘blacklist’ and ‘whitelist’ reinforces the idea that black is bad and white is good. Alternatives like ‘approved’ and ‘rejected’ are clear and neutral. When talking about people with a common ethnic or racial background, it’s better to say ‘ethnic minority’ rather than use an ac- ronym such as POC (Person of Colour) or BAME (Black, Asian, Middle Eastern).

Gender diversity: Not everyone identifies as male or fe- male, and when gender is mentioned, they feel excluded. Instead of ‘Good morning, ladies and gentlemen’ use ‘Good morning, everyone.’ (Yes, it’s that easy.)

LGBTQ+ diversity: Some people are in same-sex relation- ships. Instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, use ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’.

Ability diversity: Expressions referring to physical ability and mental health often portray related conditions negatively. Called ‘ableist language’, these terms demean the people being described, as well as anyone with these conditions. Instead of saying someone is “chained to a wheelchair”, say “disabled” or “wheelchair user”.
In our global firm, many of our people perform much of their work in a language that is not their first language. We provide writing guides to everyone with recommendations on how to follow our house style, which helps keep our communication consistent and easy for clients and employees to understand. Our newest guide in Germany includes recommendations on using inclusive language. Our pilot training on inclusive language in our EMEA region has grown into a global pro- gramme, improving awareness of how language affects people and our business.

In our global firm, many of our people perform much of their work in a language that is not their first language. We provide writing guides to everyone with recommendations on how to follow our house style, which helps keep our communication consistent and easy for clients and employees to understand. Our newest guide in Germany includes recommendations on using inclusive language. Our pilot training on inclusive language in our EMEA region has grown into a global pro- gramme, improving awareness of how language affects people and our business.
Inclusive language is one path on our journey to becoming a leader in diversity and inclusion. The road can be bumpy – changing the way we communicate, and how we approach challenges and create solutions, takes effort and dedication. Change is not easy for humans but we’re convinced our re- ward will be a diverse, inclusive workplace that provides innovative solutions and the best services for our clients.

Spread inclusion all around the globe

Author: administer