Annual D&I survey
Since 2019, we have run a D&I survey each year to obtain feedback from our employees on D&I generally, our D&I agenda, how we are doing on D&I progress, what employees would like to see the firm do on D&I and so on. Responses have increased year on year and the platform we use for delivering the survey, Culture Amp, has told us that in most D&I aspects we are ahead of the curve/benchmarks for our industry. We have used the survey themes and outcomes to shape and deliver D&I recommendations to the firm’s management board. These recommendations have been translated into direct, tangible changes to work and life at Stevens & Bolton.
D&I Forum and action groups
The establishment of a D&I forum populated by people from across the business with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. The forum has seven action groups covering LGBTQ+, BAME, mental health awareness, the Mindful Business Charter, family and parenting, Interlaw Diversity Forum (IDLF) and Women in the Law, and has specific objectives of delivering D&I growth progress in each area. The D&I forum is increasingly active and influential, and each group is delivering on its objectives. Further information on each action group can be found below.
D&I Action Group 1 - Interlaw Diversity Forum
We support IDLF, which aims to foster inclusion for all diverse and under-represented talent in the legal sector, and to promote a level playing field. We are the first firm outside London to sign up. We have taken concrete steps to align our business to IDLF principles by:
- Recruiting apprentices into our business service support functions such as IT and finance
- Promoting alternative career paths into law by having vocational trainees (i.e. trainees focused on a particular type of work, as well as the contentious seat required by regulatory standards)
- Expanding our recruitment initiatives to organisations including Women in the Law UK and the Black Solicitors network to access a wider pool of talent
D&I Action Group 2 - LGBTQ+
Our LGBTQ+ action group aims to raise awareness and be a first point of contact for anyone with any questions, concerns or recommendations. Current initiatives include:
- Linking in with the Interlaw Diversity Forum on a regular basis and publicising webinars/materials of interest to the wider firm
- Providing support and raising awareness of Stevens & Bolton’s commitment to equal opportunities
- Promoting the inclusion of pronouns in email signatures
- Attending relevant Law Society events
- Planning events to celebrate and educate for Pride History Month
- Getting involved in local pride events (i.e. Surrey Pride) as well as London based Pride celebrations
- Managing Stevens & Bolton’s own Pride celebrations which are set to take place in June
D&I Action Group 3 - Women in the Law
This action group promotes our involvement with the professional development organisation Women in the Law UK. The group aims to help, support and inspire the next generation of lawyers and women in the law through some of these initiatives:
- A monthly newsletter that anyone in the firm can sign up to receive
- Events such as the annual Women in the Law conference which employees are encouraged to attend
- Free monthly book club providing the opportunity for employees to get together with others in the industry and sometimes meet the author too!
- Free webinars and podcasts - The Talking Law Podcast often profiles leading figures in UK law as they discuss the highs and lows of their career plus the challenges and realities of the legal profession. Previous podcasts have been with luminaries such as Lady Hale, Sandie Okoro, Bernard Richmond QC…and Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed!)
D&I Action Group 4 – Mental Health Awareness
The Mental Health Awareness Group are committed to encouraging positive mental health and wellbeing amongst everyone at Stevens & Bolton. The group aims to promote a happy and healthy working environment where everyone feels able to open up about their anxieties or concerns and know that they will be fully supported by the firm. The group raises awareness of key mental health events throughout the year such as mental health awareness week and world mental health day. They also aim to raise awareness of the support already available to Stevens & Bolton employees and work alongside the firm’s Mental Health First Aiders to nurture a happy and motivated workforce year-round.
D&I Action Group 5 – Family and Parenting
Stevens & Bolton has a strong commitment to putting its people first, with empathy and togetherness both forming part of the firm’s core values. Whether you already have parenting responsibilities, are looking to start a family or have other family commitments such as caring for elderly parents, this group recognises that the ups and downs of family life are a reality for many of us at the firm. Initiatives include:
- Coffee and chat with current parents at the firm
- Fertility awareness and pregnancy loss – we are committed to raising awareness in the firm so that we can support colleagues who may be facing these struggles right now. We are a member of the miscarriage association and regularly run sessions to help anyone affected by this.
- Parental leave buddies – for anyone going on / returning from parental leave there is a chance to be buddied up with someone who has been there before and can offer support and advice.
D&I Action Group 6 – Black Solicitors Network
We are members of the Black Solicitors Network which is a not-for-profit company that aims to be the primary voice of black solicitors in England and Wales. The BSN is committed to achieving equality of access, retention and promotion of existing and aspiring black solicitors within the legal profession and those seeking to enter the profession. We regularly promote the events run by the network and ensure that all job vacancies are advertised with the network. We also promote and raise awareness of other events throughout the year such as Black History month in October.
D&I Action Group 7 – The Mindful Business Charter
The intention of the Mindful Business Charter is to remove unnecessary sources of stress and promote better mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. We recognise that there will be times and transactions when long hours and stress cannot be avoided, but this isn’t always the case, and we want it to become the exception rather than the rule. As a firm we adhere to the MBC and this group aims to promote the practices within the charter and ensure Stevens & Bolton is a great place to work.
D&I latest news
Please find further information here on some of the key events and activities our D&I forum action groups have run this year:
- In March 2022 we marked International Women's Day by running an internal webinar with an all-female panel discussion on “Managing your career as a professional woman” with guest speaker Lisa Unwin, co-founder of the Reignite Academy. The Reignite Academy provides opportunities for all lawyers returning to work after a career hiatus and it helps its clients (including Stevens & Bolton) source diverse talent which might otherwise be unavailable to us. We also organised a collection for the Smart Works Charity, which collects professional clothes for people in need of a work wardrobe for interviews.
- May was Mental Health Awareness month and we devised a full and varied programme of well-being focussed events for all employees . These events varied from tai chi and yoga in the office, a park run along the River Wey, and an online breathing skills workshop. The month culminated in a walk to a local park to enjoy a picnic.
- In June our LGBTQ action group hosted the popular PRIDE party on our office's private terrace complete with all manner of rainbow bunting and brightly hued outfits. This was our second PRIDE party and there was a strong turnout from all areas of the firm.
- Stevens & Bolton’s Family and Parenting action group launched their monthly blog to share the highs, lows and hacks of family life as experienced by a range of people around the firm, making the most of some of our collective wisdom and support. The first blog of the series provided suggestions of local holiday camps, fun days out and ideas for things to do at home that are tried and tested by mums and dads around the firm. This was followed up by another blog in August on practical ideas and resources to help with the back to school routine.
- We are currently raising awareness of Black History Month in the firm. Events involve a webinar on the "Challenges on race within the workplace and how to overcome them" as well as linking in with InterLaw Diversity Forum to promote their Black History Month webinar - a fireside chat with Cynthia Adams, Managing Director & General Counsel for Regulatory, Litigation & Employment of Jefferies, who will share her perspectives on race equity and inclusion in the legal profession and the work she is doing to improve the representation and experience of Black lawyers and business services colleagues in the profession.
A key diversity challenge for many large law firms is the gender balance at senior levels of the firm. At Stevens & Bolton, 42% of our partners are women (as a comparison, the UK law firm average is 27-33%). To see full details of our diversity statistics for 2021 please click here.
We are a member of The Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion charter, a public commitment by legal practices to promote the values of diversity, equality and inclusion throughout their firm.
We encourage equal opportunities, diversity and inclusivity in employment. Our policies and practices apply to all stages of the recruitment process, and to the development and promotion of employees during their career at the firm.
We are fully committed to employee wellbeing as part of our D&I agenda. We have nine qualified mental health first aiders who provide help and support to colleagues as needed (confidentially and sensitively as you would expect).
We run a firmwide wellness webinar series which offers real world support and guidance on a number of sensitive topics such as menopause, miscarriage, men’s health, sleep, healthy eating habits and children’s mental health issues.
Alice Donzelot, Senior Associates is a champion of mental health awareness in the firm. She writes a blog covering all aspects of mental health based on her personal experience. She has since been nominated for the “Rising Star in Diversity Change” award at the Women, Influence & Power in Law Awards 2022.
We are committed to attracting and recruiting a diverse workforce and to creating an inclusive and supportive environment where our people can thrive. Many of our employees work flexibility and our agile working policy provides for employees to work from the place that best enables them to deliver the work required within the timeframe. In real terms this means that most employees split their time between working in our office in Guildford and from home as fits the needs of our internal and external clients. We are proud of our friendly culture and of our strong values of empathy, excellence, straightforward and together which unpin everything that we do. Stevens & Bolton is a firm where we genuinely want people to be themselves, and we care - about each other and the outcome of the work we do. We hope that our recruitment processes provide a small snapshot of our culture and what to expect should you choose join us.
In March 2019, Stevens & Bolton was the first firm outside of London to sign-up to the Reignite Academy. This initiative provides opportunities for lawyers who have taken a break from their careers to return to private practice. Launched in September 2018, the Academy provides successful candidates with a six-month paid period of work experience and training with a view to "reigniting" their careers. Further information about The Reignite Academy can be found here. Stevens & Bolton joined the programme alongside eight City firms. Each firm sees this as an important part of their future talent strategy and an opportunity to use a new avenue to find experienced, talented lawyers. Louise Corcoran joined the restructuring and insolvency team as an associate via Reignite in March 2020 and has now moved to a permanent role in that team alongside another Reignite recruit, Helen Martin, who joined the team in September 2020. Both have since been promoted to Senior Associate roles. Here is what Louise has to say about her experience of the Reignite Academy and Stevens & Bolton. Our Head of Risk and Compliance, Hannah Edwards also joined us in 2019, through Reignite.
"The Reignite team gave me fantastic support in returning to my legal career. They boosted my confidence, assured me I have a very valuable skill set and convinced me to go for it! I was a commercial real estate lawyer for 20 years, before I took a five year career break. I had actually worked at Stevens & Bolton early on in my career and so when the Reignite team suggested I look at opportunities with the firm I was keen to explore this. I knew what a friendly and inclusive culture the firm has and what a bright bunch of lawyers work at the firm. In fact, many of my former colleagues are still here! When I returned to law I was interested in taking a new direction. The firm is open minded and welcomed me into an internal role in the risk and compliance team, which I now head up. It’s been incredibly interesting and challenging to discover new areas of law and I love the variety. I had coaching support from the Reignite team as I made the transition which was a great help. My role means I deal with everyone right across the firm and they are just as friendly and supportive as when I worked here before." Hannah Edwards, Head of Risk and Compliance