It’s Ok To Talk About Race! Experiences To Help Unlock BAME Talent In The Legal Sector

According to the McGregor-Smith Review – Race in the Workplace, the potential benefit for the UK economy from full representation of BAME individuals across the labour market is estimated to be £24 billion a year, representing 1.3% GDP. Yet only 1 in 16 top management positions are held by a BAME person. Successful businesses recognise the benefits that a more inclusive workforce can bring through diverse skills, talent and experiences. However, a seismic shift is required in the legal sector to unlock BAME talent.

Given the huge impact and opportunities for the legal services sector, business and the UK as a whole, Addleshaw Goddard hosted “It’s ok to talk about race!” panel discussion in its Leeds office on 28 February 2019 for those individuals looking to embark on a career in law.

This event provided an excellent platform to:

  • hear from leading BAME players in the legal services sector;
  • hear and learn about the panellists’ experiences and obstacles they have had to overcome;
  • debate and discuss strategies which the sector should adopt to ensure diversity and BAME inclusion;
  • share positive experiences and tips for success; and
  • network with professionals and business people interested in this issue.

The event was moderated by Addleshaw Goddard’s Finance Disputes Partner, Harold Brako and the esteemed panel consisted of AGs Head of Private Capital, Pervinder Kaur; Araba Obodai, District Judge at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre; Oliver Gayle, Head of Legal Credit Restructuring at Barclays; Manisha Patel, Legal Counsel at Zenith; and Varinder Rehal, Group Legal Director & Company Secretary at IPL, part of WALMART Stores.

The discussion touched on personal experiences of workplace and career obstacles (subconscious, overt and/or subtle), the career journey of each panellist and the positive ways that individuals can emphasise and take advantage of the power of their own diversity. Ultimately, the key messages which were relayed to all attendees was that (i) they should continue to work hard; (ii) they should not hold themselves back; and (iii)  they should treat any perceived differences that they have as an asset and an opportunity to offer a differing perspective.

Panel moderator Harold Brako commented:

“The legal sector’s continued success depends on the people we attract, their talent, ambition, creativity and drive.  Law firms must step up their efforts to seek out and support talented individuals with the potential to help their firms thrive – regardless of colour, background, beliefs and social circumstance.  The “It’s ok to talk about race!” event helped to showcase how Addleshaw Goddard are rightfully playing a part in marketing the legal profession, through partnerships with local and national organisations, BAME mentoring and schools, so that the coming generations know what they need to do to become lawyers and aren’t afraid to try to succeed in the profession”. 

 Panel host Pervinder Kaur commented:

“I was delighted to share my own experiences and to be able to speak so candidly with other panel members and aspiring lawyers on the issues we’ve encountered. This is an important issue for us all to embrace and events like this really do act as a catalyst for change by inspiring others through sharing experiences and giving practical advice.”

Pervinder Kaur
Addleshaw Goddard LLP

Harold Brako
Addleshaw Goddard LLP

Kristina Anglin
Addleshaw Goddard LLP