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28 Jun 2023

Stephenson Harwood hits key ethnicity target ahead of schedule


Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has met a significant ethnicity target two years ahead of schedule. The minority ethnic representation in its partnership has reached 10%, a target it originally set to achieve by May 2025.

"I’m really pleased we've met our ethnicity leadership representation target ahead of schedule," said Stephenson Harwood chief executive Eifion Morris. "While this is an important milestone, we will never be complacent. Meeting any of our targets is not, and never will be, an end point for us. We need to maintain the levels of progress we've been making, and our ambition now is to exceed this target by 1 May 2025."

It also surpassed a key recruitment target: from the latest recruitment cycle, 41% of trainees joining the firm are ethnic minorities, 19% of whom are Black.

In May 2021 Stephenson Harwood launched an ethnicity action plan and committed to a set of targets to increase diversity and inclusion at the firm. Targets include:

  • 10% minority ethnic partners by 1 May 2025.
  • Proportional retention of minority ethnic lawyers and business services colleagues each year.
  • 30% ethnic minority trainees, of whom 10% would be Black, each year.

The plan includes several actions to increase diversity at the firm including embedding the Black Talent Programme in the recruitment process, mentoring aspiring Black lawyers and legal professionals on the Black Lawyers Mentoring programme and running a Stay Programme, to help retain minority ethnic lawyers and develop their career managers as allies.

Separately, in 2022, the firm introduced a women partner target: for 35% of its partners globally to be women by May 2025. Currently 29% of the firm's partnership are women.

“We’re frustrated not to have made more progress towards our gender targets this year," said Eifion. "We know from our talent mapping exercises that we have a strong pipeline of women at managing associate level, and we’re committed to ensuring that our internal partner promotions will be more balanced in 2024 and 2025. We also recognise that we need to do more to attract women in our lateral partner hiring, which has been our greatest challenge in progressing towards our gender targets to date and remains so as we grow our business. It’s something we’re actively addressing.”

Since introducing gender targets, the firm has launched a Women’s Partner Pipeline Programme to support women who are a few years out from partnership and their partner sponsors, continued to run its Female Career Progression Programmes to support associates in navigating their career as well as strengthening their firm and client networks, and launched a range of new and enhanced global policies to support those on the pathway to parenthood, parents and carers.

To read Stephenson Harwood's diversity targets update in full – which shows progress to date, and provides examples of actions the firm has introduced which seek to support its efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive organisation – click here.



Andrew Rieley
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