Herbert Smith is set to pilot unconscious bias training for its partners next month, as the firm aims to boost gender diversity within its senior ranks.
The firm will enrol 20 of its London partners in the training pilot on 30 May this year, before rolling it out to partners firmwide. The training is intended to draw attention to unconscious behaviour that could hinder the number of women making it into the partnership.
The move, part of a renewed push to address gender diversity at the firm, comes after Herbert Smith set up a gender committee in September last year - comprising 10 male and female partners from across its network - which worked alongside the firm's HR team to compile a gender report centred around five new initiatives.
The five programmes include: unconscious bias training; flexible working initiatives; mentoring; career development and networking advice; and the expansion of its network for women in business to include its international offices, with hubs set up in Hong Kong and Dubai to serve the Asia and Middle East regions.
Committee chair and joint global M&A head Stephen Wilkinson (pictured) said: "We set up the Gender Group last autumn to consider the issue of women in partnership and to find new and improved ways of retaining talented female lawyers and improving gender balance in the partnership. The recommendations of the gender report, accepted in full by the executive, now form the key programmes within our gender initiative."
The report provides an overall view of diversity within the firm, with the committee now set to scrutinise the gender mix in specific practice groups.
Meanwhile, Herbert Smith has also agreed to offer a £2,000 scholarship to one student from the University of Warwick as part of the institute's Multicultural Scholars' Programme, designed to help address the problem of diversity in the legal sector by creating scholarships for ethnic minority students from low income backgrounds.
Hogan Lovells and Addleshaw Goddard are also in the process of rolling out new initiatives to help retain and promote more female lawyers, as businesses face increasing pressure to up the number of women in senior roles.
By Suzi Ring