The Diversity and Inclusion (“D&I”) committee at Moore Barlow LLP, supported by our wonderful marketing, IT and admin teams, wanted to join in the appreciation and celebration of the contribution that Black Britons have made in British society by putting together the Black History Month event, held on 6 October 2022.
Thank you to our speakers and panellists for their valuable contribution to this event and the incomparable Andre Botha for moderating the panel discussion and Q&A. Our thanks also go to all who have helped to put this event together.
It was an amazing hour or so of listening and learning from our speakers and panellists who were:
- Welcome – Amandeep Khasriya – Chair of the D&I Committee
- Opening Remarks – Ed Whittington – Managing Partner
- Keynote Address – Trevor Sterling – Senior Partner and D&I Committee partner sponsor
- Trevor Sterling – Senior Partner and D&I Committee partner sponsor
- Charlie Ellison – D&I committee member
- Amandeep Khasriya – Chair of the D&I Committee
- Katherine Allison – Chief of People Officer
- Closing Remarks – Michelle Halsall – D&I committee member
- Panel Moderator – Andre Botha – Head of Committees and Change Manager
Our theme as set down by Amandeep in her welcome was Allyship. We wanted this Black History Month event to be positive and encouraging, while at the same time recognising that there is more work to be done and challenging each of us to consider what we can do as individuals and as a firm to help, support and encourage members of all communities to pursue a career in law and build a more diverse and inclusive working environment.
The death of George Floyd in May 2020 sent shockwaves around the world. In 2022, 2+ years on the impact is still reverberating today. Mr Floyd’s death started a movement that has led to open conversations about race inequality, privilege and the need for positive action to bring about change and remove the barriers that Black people face in society.
The role of sponsors, mentors, allies and affinity networks are vital in this movement. As individuals, we can become allies by:
- Learning about the inequalities and obstacles that our Black communities face
- Advocating for change and removing barriers
- Helping to create opportunities
- Mentoring and being an encourager
- Dealing with our own biases
- Having those difficult conversation and listening to the experiences of our Black communities and all minority communities without judgment or preconceived ideas.
Employers do have a role to play as it is not just down to individuals. We would like to see employers foster a culture that is diverse and inclusive, that encourages and facilitates allyship.
This is part of our own culture here at Moore Barlow. We have already embarked on the journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive firm with for example:
- The first Black senior partner in a top 100 UK law firm in Trevor Sterling.
- A diversity and inclusion committee that is made up of members from all levels of people and across the different divisions, which is fully supported by our management team as endorsed by Managing Partner, Ed Whittington and Chief of People Officer, Katherine Allison.
- Different routes to qualification which will give opportunities to those who would otherwise feel it impossible to pursue a career due to their race, ethnicity or socio-economic background.
The Law Society in their guide entitled Inclusion allies states that …
Allies are needed to support minority groups and amplify their voices and experiences” and that “numbers are necessary for positive change to take place.
We encourage all of the Moore Barlow family to continue to have the conversations and reflect on how they can be an ally in the workplace and within their personal sphere of influence. Those that find it difficult to have these conversations and have no idea what to say as Ed revealed in the wake of George Floyd’s death, can turn to these thoughts from Trevor …
… just be honest and ask the question – “I really do not know about this and want to support, how can I help?” is perfect. It is why Ed’s call (to me) after George Floyd was so great. If he had made a statement like, “I know the police were bad but …” then that would have been very different to “I don’t know what to do but know we must do something, what would you think is best?” or even “I really want to understand the George Floyd situation, what are your thoughts?” He left me feeling very comfortable sharing my thoughts as there was no pre-emptory negative statement.
Our discussion at this year’s Black History Month event will further deepen our understanding of the issues that our Black communities are facing and perhaps encourage and inspire us to get involved. Trevor says that “if we do nothing, nothing gets done” which is very true. Let us work together to get something done.
The D&I Committee hopes to have similar events looking at different aspects of diversity and inclusion.