Sakil Suleman, London Diversity Partner at Reed Smith, talks exclusively to thebigidea.co.uk on why they are so proud to be a diverse and inclusive organisation.
1. If you were stuck in a lift and asked the question by a colleague at Reed Smith, why is Diversity and Inclusion important to our organisation, what would you say?
As a large global firm, working on major cross border matters, diversity and inclusion is key to the success of our business. We operate in a competitive market place and it is essential that we are able to attract, retain and harness top quality talent and for that we have to recruit from the widest talent pool. Diversity brings dynamism and energy and helps us provide our clients with a cutting edge service. We value cultural differences and we work hard to ensure a fair and inclusive environment for all, where the unique insights, perspectives and backgrounds of individuals are recognised. Our priority is to recruit, retain and promote individuals not just without regard to their race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or physical challenge, but because of these unique qualities and the value they bring to our organisation and clients.
2. Research confirms that customers value organisations that understand the diversity of their needs, both from a people and business perspective. How do you see your organisation working towards meeting the diverse needs of your customers?
We work closely with our clients in the area of diversity and inclusion. In 2013, we held our first Diversity Forum in the London office. We were joined by a panel of leaders including high-profile clients GE and BNY Mellon, who spoke about why diversity and inclusion is important to them.
Our CSR and Diversity team have also presented at clients’ diversity and inclusion committee meetings. This has given us the chance to learn and share best practice. We are fully transparent on the work we do on diversity and inclusion, including sharing our statistics and other information with our clients.
We regularly second our lawyers to our clients' in-house legal teams to better understand their business, but also their values and needs. An integral part of all secondments are the personal relationships that are formed with a wide range of stakeholders within the client’s business.
3. You have been members of DiversityJobs.co.uk since 2013, why do you think it is vital for Employers such as Reed Smith to partner with organisations like ours?
A key aspect of our diversity and inclusion programme is ensuring that our job opportunities reach the broadest possible talent pools. DiversityJobs.co.uk has a large readership of individuals passionate about diversity and inclusion. DiversityJobs.co.uk is able to promote us as an employer of choice, by highlighting our inclusive workplace culture to its readers.
4. What do you do as an organisation to support the needs of your employees, and why do you feel it is important to that ensure staff feel valued and well looked after?
Our Core Values - Integrity, Quality, Teamwork & Respect, Performance, and Innovation & Improvement support our vision and drive our success. Our diversity and inclusion programme embodies each of these core values as we recognise that diversity at all levels of an organisation is a true sign of a successful enterprise.
We understand the importance of employee engagement, both from the perspective of our individual employees but also our business. We want to be able to hire the best people and create an environment where they feel comfortable, can give their best and want to stay with us- engagement is a tool for us to do this. If we have the best people working for us, our employer and employee brand will be enhanced along with the service we provide to our clients.
We strive hard to develop and embed our engagement vision, “To make Reed Smith an exceptional place to work and to cultivate a high-performance culture”. In 2013, our London office launched an office-wide engagement committee, made up of volunteer engagement champions from each department within the office. The key aim of our engagement committee is to create a forum to discuss employee feedback.
5. What Diversity initiatives are you most proud of?
We are very proud of our disability and race & ethnicity initiatives. We partner with excellent organisations, including EmployAbility, Business in the Community and BLD Foundation, on these programmes. We are delighted to have reserved two spots for students with disabilities, and two spots for ethnic minority students, on our 2014 vacation scheme. Our vacation scheme has a guaranteed training contract interview included as part of the scheme.
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