Private roundtable hosted by the London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation (LCAM) to input into a government commissioned taskforce, led by the City of London Corporation.

The London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation today convened a group of senior leaders in the legal sector to discuss how the UK can improve socio-economic diversity in UK financial and professional services, boost productivity, and find new levelling up opportunities.

Held at the offices of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the discussion was facilitated by taskforce co-chair Sandra Wallace CBE, Joint Managing Director for the UK & Europe at law firm DLA Piper, and a former Interim Co-Chair of the Social Mobility Commission.

Outputs of the discussion will be used to inform the work of the City of London Corporation’s taskforce commissioned by HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, to advise on how the government, regulators, sector bodies and employers can work together to increase socio-economic diversity at senior levels of the financial and professional services sector.

Social mobility is an important issue for our country and our economy. Research from the Bridge Group shows that employees from non-professional backgrounds progress 25% slower than peers, with no link to job performance.

The London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation was established by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to advance the City’s standing as the preeminent global city for business and dispute resolution, keeping the wheels of global trade turning. The Chamber operates a number of initiatives to encourage diversity and inclusion, including through their Asian Business Association and Black Business Association.

Jonathan Wood, Chair of the London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation (LCAM) said: “The legal sector wholeheartedly agrees that boosting representation at senior levels is vital if we are to maintain the sector’s globally competitive edge. Delivering tangible change will require collaborative engagement across the sector and beyond, and LCAM were delighted to lead the charge in bringing this conversation to bear”.

Sandra Wallace CBE, Co-Chair of the taskforce, said: “Today’s roundtable was an important opportunity to draw on the expertise of leading industry voices as we develop the taskforce’s recommendations. Evidence shows the need for change across financial and professional services, and we know that many firms are responding and striving to create opportunities to access the sector. We must work together to address this issue. I am grateful to the London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation for convening this discussion today.

Stephanie Boyce, President of the Law Society (present at the roundtable), said: “The legal profession has taken important steps to advance social mobility during the pandemic, but we can always do more and do it better. Today’s discussion brought together senior leaders who discussed a range of issues facing workplaces and how they can be improved. The London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation has timed this discussion well, as the profession continues to deal with the pandemic, which has widened socio-economic inequalities in education and employment.”

About the Taskforce on Socio-Economic Diversity in Financial and Professional Services

The taskforce’s vision is for equity of career progression, led by performance not ‘polish’ or ‘fit’. In the legal profession many of us already collect data on workforce social economic background, as required by the SRA, but this is not the norm. Across the UK’s financial and professional services sector, we must work harder to set a baseline and track improvements. The Taskforce is asking employers across UK financial and professional services to encourage their staff to spare 3 minutes to anonymously share their socio-economic background, level of seniority, and their views on career progression. The deadline for employees to complete this survey is 31st March 2022. To get involved please see the Get Involved pages of www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/WhoGetsAhead

The socio-economic diversity Taskforce is working closely with sector bodies, regulators and Government to understand how we can incentivise employer action. Through a series of consultations, roundtables and interviews we are creating a roadmap to help employers achieve greater socio-economic diversity at senior levels. This is a UK wide campaign, with consultations across the country, and we encourage you to make sure your voice is heard by attending one of these industry consultations.

For more information, and to get involved in either of these initiatives please email: socio-economicdiversity@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Farad Asghari, LCAM Manager