Q&A: Diversity & Inclusion with Eli Crawford from Irwin Mitchell

Q&A: Diversity & Inclusion with Eli Crawford from Irwin Mitchell

Published: 2023-04-25

We recently sat down with Eli from Irwin Mitchell to understand what diversity and inclusion mean to them and what they are doing to promote inclusion and diversity in their organisation.

Irwin Mitchell currently rank 36th in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index and they have picked up a gold award for their work on inclusion. They have also been ranked 10th in UK's Best Workplaces for Women 2022– GPTW and have recently been recognised as one of the Best Workplaces for Wellbeing – GPTW.

They are a great company to take inspiration from to drive your DEI initiatives, check out our conversation below:

What does D&I mean to you?

“Diversity is about people and the mix of all of us. This includes demographic differences, backgrounds, multiple identities and people's unique experiences, perspectives, knowledge, abilities, ideas and more. This encompasses a range of characteristics, including age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, and also how these individual characteristics work together and overlap (intersectionality).

Inclusion is about welcoming and valuing this diversity – valuing you for who you are and what you bring, as set out in our DNA. Inclusion is about developing the structures, systems, processes, culture, behaviour and mindset that welcomes and values all people and all our diversity. It's about making sure we harness all the diversity of knowledge, perspectives, experiences, abilities and ideas in our workforce to collaborate, innovate and make better decisions.

Ultimately the goal is to enable everyone to thrive, as set out in our Responsible Business strategy.

As well as being the right thing to do, Diversity & Inclusion supports the delivery of the three main goals in Our Strategy:

  • Delivering exceptional client service: Increasing the diversity of our workforce helps provide greater understanding of the diversity of our client needs. Diverse and inclusive workplaces improve our ability to grow deeper relationships and be responsive to changing needs.
  • Improving operational efficiency: Enhancing colleague motivation through an inclusive workplace and sense of belonging increases productivity and performance. It also helps to develop a sense of purpose through a strong ESG proposition
  • Growing our business: Increasing diversity of thought, through increasing the diversity of our workforce, enables a culture of innovation and creativity"

One of your aims is to build commitment to your diversity agenda throughout all levels of the firm. What stage are you at with hitting your long term objectives?

“We became a Disability Confident Level 2 Employer last year and we are currently on our way to becoming Disability Confident Level 3, which means being a 'Leader' in terms of encouraging other businesses to become disability inclusive employers.”

Are you able to give us some insight into last years gender pay gap figures?

“We have recently published our latest gender pay gap figures which show that the mean has decreased year-on-year to under 10%. We also voluntarily published the ethnicity pay data which has also reduced.

For the last financial year (2021/2022) we have a gender pay gap of 9.7%, a decrease of 1.3% compared to last year. We have also seen a decrease of 1.1% in its ethnicity pay gap from -6.4% in 2021 to -5.3% in 2022.

Females make up 74% of all colleagues at Irwin Mitchell and we also have the highest percentage (54.8%) of female Partners out of the top 50 law firms.”

What is Irwin Mitchell's approach to diversity hiring?

“Diversity and Inclusion is at the top of our agenda in terms of hiring, embedding this throughout our talent acquisition offering. The team are currently working on a number of projects to ensure we are increasing our efforts further, as well as working with the D&I team to collect and analyse data in this area. We are playing a key role in Irwin Mitchell's preparation towards moving from a Disability Confident Level 2 employer to a Level 3 employer, as well as making further pledges such as Business in the Community's Opening Doors campaign; which calls on employers to take actions to unlock their jobs to diverse and untapped talent.”

How do you ensure you are getting a truly diverse pool of candidates?

“One way we ensure we are getting our jobs out to the most diverse pool of candidates is that we have developed a number of partnerships with diversity focused job boards and organisations. For example, we work very closely with Evenbreak, a job board and organisation which supports people with disabilities. Not only are all of our vacancies advertised on their job board, we will soon be jointly hosting both internal and external events and workshops, both to raise our profile as a disability inclusive employer and to increase knowledge internally on accessible recruitment processes. Evenbreak also support us with training and guidelines where needed.”

Have you adapted your interview structure to facilitate neurodiversity hiring?

“To facilitate neurodiversity hiring, we ensure that all candidates are offered reasonable/workplace adjustments throughout the interview process (and beyond) to ensure the process is tailored to an individual's needs. We also provide training and guidance to Hiring Managers on adjustments and inclusive recruitment practices.

We have also recently introduced Situational Judgement Testing into the interview process for some of our roles. This testing has been designed to ensure an inclusive process for all candidates, including those with a neurodiversity.”

What steps have you made to improve employee engagement towards hiring a diverse workforce and what training have hiring managers undertaken to comply with the interview process?

“As of this financial year, all colleagues have had mandatory D&I training to complete. We will also shortly be launching our 'Role of a Line Manager' training package, which covers in-depth, the full lifecycle of being a line manager, including hiring and D&I. This training includes handbooks, e-learning, bootcamps and 1-2-1 training. The Talent Acquisition team have also created a Hiring Manager Guide which includes D&I and ensuring an inclusive recruitment process.

Our Finance & Risk and Asset Management teams last year also received Unconscious Bias training delivered by the Talent Acquisition and HR Business Partnering teams.”

How does your benefits package reflect your commitment to offering a diverse and inclusive culture?

“Ensuring a diverse and inclusive working environment is central to our culture and strategy and as a such, our reward and benefits package is designed to ensure we have lots of resources and support in place to help our colleagues with their wellbeing (mental and financial) and to encourage an excellent work/life balance. For example, we offer a flexible working policy, 'Flexible by Choice', which encourages colleagues to choose where and how they work, so long as client and business needs are being met. Our Family Leave policies demonstrates our commitment to supporting colleagues with caring responsibilities to balance work and family life and recognise that everyone's situation is personal to them. We also have lots of resources and support in place in Irwin Mitchell to help our colleagues with their wellbeing, mental health and work/life balance.”

Thank you for your time and insight Eli, you are really making strides in creating a workplace that promotes equality for all.