Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
At Devonshires, we are committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and to providing a workplace that fosters the development of our people, is free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying, and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Our EDI objectives stem from our Core Values regarding our people, our clients and our community.
- Our Clients – To add value to our relationships, we seek to better understand our clients’ cultures and aspirations through collaboration and our diverse staff.
- Our People – To be a successful organisation we strive to encourage diversity, provide an inclusive environment where people want to work, and ensure that they are treated fairly.
- Our Community – Fostering partnerships with socially minded organisations to help the disadvantaged and champion causes that we are passionate about.
Our EDI programme is led by Senior Partners within our firm who meet regularly throughout the year to plan how we can better promote EDI and keep track as to whether we are meeting our objectives.
Whilst our Senior Partners, supported by our Compliance and HR teams, drive diversity within the firm, we require everyone’s commitment and co-operation to ensure it continues to be successful.
Understand more about our EDI Governance by expanding a section below:
Training & Awareness Programme
We embed EDI through training of staff and by enforcing the requirement to ensure that our suppliers and contractors are committed to the same.
New joiners receive EDI training as part of their induction and all our employees and partners receive regular update training on EDI issues. It is a contractual requirement that staff and partners complete this training when invited to do so.
Our training covers:
- Equality and diversity in the workplace
- Equality legislation
- Religion, belief and race
- Marriage and sexual orientation
- Sexism, pregnancy and maternity
- Gender reassignment
We maintain records of all employee details relating to age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, and socio-economic background. This statistical data is used to provide ongoing assessments of our staff profile and will be treated in the strictest confidence.
We benchmark the composition of our workforce against diversity statistics for the City of London, Greater London, and the UK.
You can download a copy of our Diversity Statistics report (last updated November 2020) here.
Recruitment & Employment
We are committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and to providing a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. As such all job applicants, employees, partners, and third parties who come into contact with us will receive equal treatment, regardless of age, disability, gender identity, marriage, and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. We welcome all applications.
EDI is considered at every level to ensure that we recruit, retain and promote the best people irrespective of their background to meet our current and future business needs.
Recruitment of all employees is conducted in a systematic way which enables us to select the most suitable candidates. We advertise all our vacancies internally and externally on our website, social media, and with various universities to attract a variety of candidates. We recruit solicitors who have qualified through the traditional route but also through alternative routes such as CILEx.
We will only ever engage with suppliers, subcontractors, or third parties who take active steps to follow good practice in recruiting, developing, and managing staff that help to widen opportunities in under-represented groups, and who in turn look for similar practices in suppliers, subcontractors, or third parties with whom they contract.
Our HR department generally asks recruitment agents to provide us with their EDI policies to ensure their stance on EDI issues is in line with ours.
EDI Schemes and Practices
EDI requires everyone’s commitment and co-operation to ensure it continues to be successful. Across our business, we have implemented various schemes and practices which run through the heart of all we do. Examples include:
We are Corporate Partners of The Sutton Trust, a leading organisation in the social mobility space in the UK.
The Trust fight for social mobility from birth to the workplace so that every young person – no matter who their parents are, what school they go to, or where they live – has the chance to succeed in life.
Our partnership commenced in Summer 2021 and sponsors the ‘Pathways to Law’ programme – a two-year programme offering young people (aged 16-17) the opportunity to explore what entering the legal profession might look like. The programme provides work experience placements, an undergraduate mentor, alumni networking, invites to university events, and access to a summer school.
We successfully deliver Employability Days and Work Placement Schemes, which we operate in collaboration with a number of our housing clients for their residents as well as end-users of our partner charities.
Our Employability Days teach job application skills in a fun and engaging way. The day includes working on typical interview questions, discussing desired employee qualities from an employer’s perspective, a presentation from our HR department on applications, CV analysis for the participants and role-play interviews.
Our Work Placement Scheme invites Employability Day participants to join us for a six-month paid internships. The success of our programme is evidenced by the number of internship participants who have furthered their careers by taking Paralegal roles within our legal departments.
At a recent Employability Day we reviewed a resident’s CV and received the following feedback:
“After making the amendment’s that you suggested to my CV I applied for a position with the NHS and just had a call to say that I have been successful, with them commenting that I had a strong CV; thanks to you for your input.”
We support the First 100 Years Projects, which celebrates women in law. In 2019, we hosted a celebratory networking evening for our clients, in partnership with The First 100 Years project, to mark the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time. In 2020, we continued our support by hosting a #FaceTheFuture campaign, which aimed to capture the diverse face of women in law (and their male allies) across the world. Our Leeds office was one of many pop-up locations for the international photography day. At our pop-up, we invited legal professionals to drop by, no registration needed, and have their photo taken by a professional photographer. The portraits were used by the Next 100 Years project to create a digital gallery and physical exhibition showing just how diverse the profession is.
We financially support Leadership 2025, an intensive 9-month leadership development programme, initiated by three organisations (BME London, Optivo and L&Q), available exclusively to senior leaders from BME backgrounds working in the housing sector. Leadership 2025 aims to support and empower BME senior professionals to become sector leaders of the future and seeks to positively disrupt the housing sector by challenging current perceptions and promoting the fact that diversity is not just something that ticks boxes but is actually good for business. During the launch we provided funding for their website development and more recently delivered a Governance Masterclass.
To celebrate EDI events throughout the year, staff volunteers have authored informative articles providing history, personal statements and further reading to educate their colleagues. Topics have included Black Lives Matter – Steps Forward & Looking Back, Celebrating Pride and International Pronouns Day.
- We have two fully trained Mental Health First Aiders to support individuals in accessing the support they may need related to mental ill health support wellbeing across the firm.
- We have shared with staff communications about mental health covering Managing Anxiety; Staying Home & Staying Well; Mental Health Awareness Week; and World Mental Health Day.
- All staff and Partners have access to LawCare, an independent and confidential support service that provides assistance on a number of wellness issues, including mental health, via a helpline, webchat and email service.
- All staff and Partners have access SmartHealth, which offers a mental health support service providing personalised care from a team of specialised individuals. The team can provide one-off consultations delivered remotely or assist with arranging a number of therapy sessions
- All employees and Partners have access to the MetLife Wellbeing hub. MetLife has a number of resources available to support mental health wellbeing including webinars, programmes, mini-health checks, counselling, medical information and support for managing others.
We are committed to providing excellent customer service to all of our clients as well as supporting our staff with any reasonable adjustments. Our approach follows:
- Clients: We will make reasonable adjustments to remove any barriers because of a client’s disability so they may access our services in the same way as someone that is not disabled. The types of reasonable adjustments we can make include printing documents in larger typeface or employing the services of sign language interpreter at seminars.
- Staff: We work with an occupational health advisor who provides guidance on reasonable adjustments to working hours, duties and arrangements where needed. We provide all assistance needed as part of our recruitment process.
- Office Space: We operate out of three offices, which all provide step-free access and good building accessibility. Due regard is given to any specific needs of likely building users that might be reasonably met.
- Other: Our website is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) and has features for those with visual impairments.