Burges Salmon: How this law firm is living up to its commitment to diversity and inclusion

Black British attorneys have historically faced discrimination and racism at the law firms where they work. But Burges Salmon has prioritised creating an environment of inclusion and equal opportunity through its BCultured employee network in addition to a partnership with BYP.

In a field where Black professionals are largely underrepresented, it’s not surprising that 84% of Black lawyers report that they’ve experienced some form of racism while at work. In an effort to combat the status quo within their industry, Burges Salmon established BCultured, an internal network for Black, Asian, and ethnic minority (BAME) employees, in 2018. BCultured is one of five internal networks that support and promote Burges Salmon's diversity and inclusion aims.

 

Priscilla Osoba - Solicitor (Projects)

 

The task of shifting the workplace culture, especially at a large law firm, can be a daunting one. In fact, there are a number of large firms that still have not made much progress by way of improving diversity—especially since the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. But the leaders at Burges Salmon recognised back in 2018 that the only way to ensure an equitable workplace was to have clear objectives and to take things one step at a time. When BCultured was established, it set out to achieve a number of goals— which included: 

  • Identifying ways to challenge discrimination and stereotyping internally 
  • Supporting the personal and professional development of BAME employees at the firm and increasing the number of BAME role models at senior levels 
  • Engaging with other groups/networks both internally and externally (locally and nationally), who share common aims/objectives of promoting diversity, inclusivity, and social mobility and increasing participation.

 

Diversity and inclusion are integral to our firm-wide strategy. Our culture is open, collaborative, and inclusive, enabling us to recruit, retain and motivate the highest calibre of people. It is important to us that all of our people feel that they can be themselves at work. 

— Burges Salmon website

 

Following its launch in 2018, BCultured was recognised as a standout contender for ‘Outstanding BAME Network’ at the UK Legal Diversity Awards in November 2019. BCultured also partners with community organisations, such as the Stepping Up Leadership programme—a leadership programme that aims to improve the diversity leadership landscape across the public, voluntary and commercial sector with a particular focus on BAME. In 2020, Burges Salmon became signatories to Rare Recruitment’s Race Fairness Commitment and Business in the Community’s Race at Work Charter. BCultured has continued its work to inform, advise and advance matters of diversity and inclusion. 

 

Jess Denton - Central Team Co-ordinator 

 

When asked what her favourite part about working at Burges Salmon was, employee Roxanne Ratcliff stated, “Working with people across all our departments to decide how we can build an inclusive business that supports diversity. It could be running an event with [BCultured] on allyship for anti-racism or testing our office spaces to make improvements for disability access.” This sort of eagerness to collaborate is the driving force behind the success of BCultured and all of the other diversity networks. This collaboration and openness to work together is what builds bridges and breaks down stereotypes—making Burges Salmon a place where their employees feel fully seen and supported.

 

Roxanne Ratcliff - Diversity, Inclusion, and CR Manager

 

To learn more about Burges Salmon or to apply for their available roles please visit their BYP jobs board here.

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