May 15, 2018
Modern Law Magazine Awards – Online Interview
Donna Richards, CEO of Carpenters Group, spoke to Modern Law Magazine about diversity and inclusion and how businesses can look to drive this forward in 2019, as well as what she is looking forward to most about the Modern Law Awards 2019.
What were Carpenters Group’s reasons for sponsoring the Diversity and Inclusion Award at the Modern Law Awards 2019?
Inclusivity, transparency, fairness and equal opportunities in the workplace are precious core values at Carpenters Group. In sponsoring this award, we wish to highlight the importance and continuing need to promote these values throughout the legal sector. Such awards can only help to break down obsolescent practices and views, whether on gender, ethnicity or age.
How can a diverse and inclusive workforce drive a progressive and collaborative business forward?
The business case for a more diverse and inclusive workforce is indisputable. Giving all employees a fair chance, no matter what their personal circumstances, to develop and then creating the environment to progress will directly enable a business to succeed. This is not about paying lip-service to the issues around equal opportunities, and certainly not simply generating ‘initiatives’ for the annual report, but genuine chances to progress.
How is Carpenters Group working towards more diversity and inclusivity in the sector?
We believe in meritocracy, the best person for the job! We lead by example, demonstrating that diversity is a part of our everyday corporate life. Employing over 1,000 staff in offices throughout the UK, 58% of our total workforce are women, 50% of Carpenters’ Executive board are female, 61% of our Operations Board are women and across the business 59% of managers and team leaders at Carpenters are women.
One of the reasons Carpenters has such a high proportion of women is flexibility, we invest in our team from the outset providing both training and experience. Allowing people flexibility allows us to keep that experience in the business, facilitates career progression and ensures we have the ‘best person’ for the role. Choosing the best people and then giving them the tools to progress works, and it pays off through their contribution to the firm and their loyalty.
In doing the right thing for our people and supporting each other while offering a wide range of employment options, we become an attractive employer to most backgrounds and circumstances. There is no barrier to entry into our business and this naturally promotes diversity and inclusion; our business would struggle to operate without it. This is supported in our people policy and practice, with a fully integrated approach in every part of the employee lifecycle. We maintain an open and transparent environment and ensure our responsibilities are carried out with fairness, all of which are written into our Culture and Core Values statements.
What advice would you give to women looking to progress their career into a senior level position?
Work hard, be ambitious but not impatient, develop your skillset at every opportunity and believe in yourself. As Lady Justice Rafferty, a Court of Appeal Judge, illustrated last year, the number of female partners in law firms remains “stubbornly low” and there are clearly many barriers still to overcome. Women have accounted for over 60% of newly qualified solicitors since 1990 but currently represent only 28% of partners in private practice. We are extremely proud that women are equally represented at our Board level and are a clear majority amongst senior managers. I might also add that a woman’s talents perhaps could be better recognised in a progressive firm such as Carpenters Group.
What are Carpenters Group’s plans for 2019?
We have always invested in new technologies and product offerings, and will certainly continue to do so in 2019. The strength and depth of these offerings should allow us to continue expanding throughout the year in a sustainable manner. We are very excited about these developments and look forward to rolling these services out.
What are you looking forward to most about the Modern Law Awards 2019?
Other than reading some exciting and innovative entries for the Diversity and Inclusion Award of course, celebrating the successes of the profession over the past 12 months!
We believe in meritocracy, the best person for the job!