Progress on our pledge to increase diversity and inclusion within Kingsley Napley

5 November 2021

When I became Senior Partner of Kingsley Napley in 2018, I made a very clear pledge to the firm – that I would make it one of my key objectives to increase diverse talent and foster a culture of inclusivity.
 

I have spoken about this previously, but my journey into being a diversity champion and ally came quite late on in my career. My experience began 4 years ago when I became an LGBTQ+ ally, as a result of witnessing the prejudice experienced by a relative.  I realised then that I was in a position of privilege that I could use to make a positive difference. Since then, I have taken every opportunity open to me to advocate the importance of diversity in our firm and to champion and encourage others to champion diversity and inclusion.  I have also educated myself in various ways including engaging with our Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) network and book club, accessing podcasts on diversity issues, talking to people at Kingsley Napley about their experiences.

A key part of our drive has come from making diversity and inclusion a fundamental part of our 3 year business plan which says that we will:

Develop our employer brand to demonstrate that we are an authentic, responsible and inclusive employer of choice, putting the firm in the best possible position to attract and retain talent from a diverse talent pool."

For example, the death of George Floyd galvanised us to push the conversation and make a real difference in improving our ethnic diversity. We embarked on a range of initiatives to implement change and make headway in promoting awareness of anti-racism and vocalising our active support for diverse talent.  

Along this journey, I have to say that I have learnt a lot, and know that I still have much to learn. Nonetheless, I am very pleased with the progress we have made thus far as a firm in all areas of diversity and inclusion, which includes:

  • Signing up to 10,000 black interns, and offering two paid work experience opportunities to black students in summer 2022 and for the next five years;
  • Becoming a Valuable 500 signatory;
  • Last year our trainee applications of black and minority ethnic applicants increased by 280%. Of those applications, 50% of the candidates who were offered trainee contracts were from black and minority ethnic backgrounds;
  • Adopting the Halo Code, which protects employees who come to work with hairstyles associated with racial, ethnic, religious and cultural identities;
  • Launching a diversity book drive initiative for local primary schools to provide them with representative books;
  • Raising £10,000 for a range of race-related charities; and
  • Reviewing our recruitment processes for unconscious bias and amending our practices by using RARE Recruitment.

We have also been ranked, in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For survey, as the best managed law firm in the country, for the fourth year in a row.  I have no doubt that our approach to D&I issues is a significant factor in this. 

To complement the work we have already done, we have also signed up to Legal Core which is a: “leadership-led, cross-firm collective aimed at tackling the underrepresentation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the UK legal sector”. I am particularly invested in this initiative as Senior Partner, as I recognise that the culture within any organisation is predominantly driven by senior leaders and the management board. I shall endeavour to hold myself to account, and have no doubt that everyone within Kingsley Napley will do the same.

Stephen Parkinson is Kingsley Napley's Senior Partner.

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