Baker McKenzie: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the Forefront

by Anna Brown

Anna Brown, Chief Inclusion And Diversity Officer, Baker Mckenzie

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are at the forefront of conversation and consciousness – in our communities, in the media, and in our workplaces. At Baker McKenzie we are striving to advance an inclusive and diverse culture where our people are able to flourish, contribute their ideas and skills to the business of the firm, while maintaining a sense of meaningful wellbeing. Having diverse teams makes innovation possible, provides greater insight into business and client needs and ultimately leads to better performance and outcomes across our business.

But how do we progress? How do we move our DEI goals forward? How do we see tangible results that impact our workplace and communities? Three key guidelines we focus on are:  first, leadership is critical. Keeping in mind that your title does not
determine leadership, it is a responsibility for all. Second, accountability. How will we hold ourselves and each other accountable? And third, humility. We may not have all of the answers, however as our DEI journey continues to evolve, we recognize that being humble is the path towards growth.

Embedding a holistic approach to DEI begins by ensuring inclusive and accountable leadership. By adopting this approach we put ourselves in a better position to drive equity in systems and practices, engage and measure impact and awareness, and ultimately accelerate sustainable societal change.

Organizations are investing more in DEI, but it is often difficult to establish what works. At Baker McKenzie we’ve set ambitious targets and continue to measure impact. We are making good progress towards our global gender aspirational targets for leadership, set at 40:40:20, which represents 40% male, 40% female and 20% non-binary or flexible by 2025. We have also set targets in the US and Canada for racial and ethnic minorities to comprise 15% of equity partners; 20% of non-equity partners and 15% of leadership by 2025. While there’s much more work to be done, we are proud of the progress we’ve made:

  • 42% of our Global Practice Group Chairs, 40% of our Global Industry Group Steering Committee Members and 53% of our Global Professional Leadership Team are female.
  • We had an 80% increase in number of US racial and ethnic minority partners in the past 5 years
  • 62% of our most recent US First Year Associate class was female; and 49% are members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Over the past year we have advanced many of our strategic priorities and as we continue our efforts to progress diversity, dismantle barriers to inclusion and promote equity, we remain focused on positively impacting the day to day experiences of our people. Highlights have included:

  • 125 hours of billable hour credit in the US and Canada for I&D work
  • the launch of our global Socio-Economic Diversity program in memory of our late Global Chair Paul Rawlinson, honoring his commitment to increasing access to opportunity, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender or socio-economic background
  • our work to promote antiracism and the launch of a Racial and Ethnic Equity Leadership Toolkit and Scorecard to promote leadership accountability for inclusive practices, as well as establishing a firm-wide task force to advance antiracism
  • becoming a signatory to The Valuable 500, where we have committed to improve the accessibility of our communications for all our people
  • taking on a Do Something Hard action as part of the 2021 Inclusion Blueprint, a collaborative project between Diversity Lab and ChIPs to ensure that historically underrepresented lawyers have fair and equal access to quality work, influential sponsors and clients
  • earning a Mansfield Rule Plus certification from Diversity Lab, joining 100+ other major law firms in an affirmative commitment to inclusive recruitment and promotion practices.

While there is still so much uncertainty with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, we are determined to ensure that our people, our clients and our communities feel safe and supported at Baker McKenzie as we drive a culture of inclusion, equity and diversity.

Here’s to action, impact and progress in 2022.

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