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Irwin Mitchell Joins 11% Of Law Firms To Offer Unconscious Bias Training

Experts Take Steps To Make Legal Industry More Inclusive


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

Irwin Mitchell is joining the 11% of law firms who make unconscious bias training consistently available to colleagues, as part of efforts to make the legal industry more inclusive.

The national law firm has produced a new training webinar to educate all of it’s employees on the hidden biases everyone has, how they can affect decision making and the steps to overcome them.

On top of the training being made available to colleagues across the firm’s 13 UK offices, additional in-depth workshops will be made available to line managers, to support them through scenarios where natural human unconscious biases can be more prevalent.

The firm is also taking steps to remind colleagues about unconscious bias as part of the recruitment process.

The move follows the release of the results of the largest international survey of women in law, released by the Law Society of England and Wales in March 2018.  Of the 7,781 respondents the main barrier to career progressions was identified as unconscious bias (52%); however, only 11% said unconscious bias training is consistently carried out in their organisation.

Expert Opinion
Whilst we’re proud to be part of the first wave of law firms leading the way on this front, we hope more will follow so collectively, we can make a real difference. Addressing biases, which act as barriers to improving diversity and inclusion, is something we all have a responsibility for. We believe that ultimately by doing so, we will be adding value to both our clients and colleagues.
Andrea Preston, HR Director

The People Development team at Irwin Mitchell produced the training video explaining that unconscious biases are stereotypes formed outside of our awareness, and determined through personal experience. Even though we are unaware, these biases can lead to discriminatory behaviours and decisions. The video is supported by a face to face workshops typically aimed at line managers.

As part of the training colleagues are asked to hold themselves accountable to their own biases by questioning first impressions, justifying decisions and inviting feedback from others.

This is not the first time that Irwin Mitchell, a founding member of the Law Society’s Diversity Charter, has introduced measures as part of its efforts to unlock the power of inclusion.

In 2017 the firm introduced ‘blind recruitment’ for all of its trainee contracts. In the same year the firm brought in a policy to attract and retain transgender colleagues. More recently the Irwin Mitchell has seen around 200 employees receive mental health support training and almost 1000 colleagues taking part in their LGBT+ allies campaign.

Outside of the HR team, employment law expert Melanie Stancliffe, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, regularly advises businesses on the risk unconscious bias can present and the necessary steps to confront them.

Expert Opinion
Ultimately, we all harbour our own views and “people preferences” which are impossible to eradicate completely. Employers can therefore minimise the risks by being proactive in their approach. Analysing existing biases is a good first step in development and likely to increase diversity and productivity. It is also a business investment in minimising risk to defend future claims.
Melanie Stancliffe, Partner

Click here to find out more about unconscious bias and the impact it can have on businesses.