Evershedding the Old Ways: Eversheds Sutherland sets BAME targets for UK practice

October 11, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Eversheds Sutherland has released BAME targets for its UK team in order to address the lack of diversity within the firm.

What does this mean?

Eversheds has stated their wish to increase the number of lawyers – from trainees to partners – from a black, asian or minority ethnic background in their UK practice. These targets are limited to the firm’s UK office simply because UK legislation allows for the monitoring of employees’ ethnicity. 

In Evershed’s ideal world, 14% of its UK team should comprise of lawyers from a BAME background by 2022, which would be an increase from its current 11.85%. In addition, it is hoped that, by 2025, BAME members will represent 10% of UK partners at the firm (an improvement on the current 5.33%).

What's the big picture effect?

In June 2019, it was found that across the top 12 UK firms, less than 7% of partners identified as being from a BAME background. This prompted Lee Ranson, Evershed’s chief executive, to state that he wanted the firm to improve on its own record.

In the words of Ranson, “we will continue to appoint the best people for all our roles but want to ensure we have removed any barriers which could discourage BAME candidates”. This highlights the fact that these targets do not give BAME candidates an advantage, as some critics have argued. Instead, the aim is to remove existing barriers to their progression.

Eversheds has also disclosed that the firm will be revealing its pay data in 2020. The report will be broken down by ethnicity, alongside their gender pay gap report. From this, it is clear that Eversheds is taking steps to improve their transparency, as well as make the firm more diverse.​

The new BAME targets are not the first time Eversheds has taken steps towards a more diverse practice. The “Unlocked” programme offers coaching and financial support to individuals from a lower socio-economic background. Furthermore, Eversheds partnered with Wincanton in 2018 to give five BAME law students the opportunity to undertake a week-long placement with the firm.

While it is clear that law firms are making inroads with regards to diversity, it is equally as clear that the focus is on a diverse trainee intake, when it can be argued that the real issue is the lack of diversity at partner level. Consequently, targeting increased diversity in partners, as Eversheds seeks to do, would address the problem in a way that has yet been left untouched.

Report written by Natasha Dawes

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