Justine Ball, litigation partner at Shakespeare Martineau, which is part of Ampa, will be attending this year’s Anthropy. Here, she discusses the importance of representation in leadership roles.
As civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman famously said – “you can’t be what you can’t see”. Without representation and being able to see people who share your identities and experiences, it is difficult to pursue goals.
The power of representation – whether in the media, politics or business – is arguably one of the most important notions that defines our society.
And it is particularly crucial when it comes to building a high-performance culture within a business. If an organisation is lacking in diverse leaders and role models, it can be difficult for its workforce to progress in their careers. Furthermore, when employees feel like they are not being heard or seen, performance, loyalty and engagement can drop.
People are multifaceted and unique beings, and understanding what motivates and drives them will help to build a happy team and bolster retention. However, this is near-on impossible if a diverse workforce cannot see they are appropriately represented – whether through gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation – at the top.
A diverse leadership team will show a business’ people that it wants to do right by them and will have them at the forefront of their minds when making decisions. This will, in turn, help build a high-performance culture, encouraging people to work together as individuals more cohesively and operate well as an effective team.
Becoming a diverse and inclusive workplace is not just the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do. Improving the employee experience builds loyalty and engagement, and diversity of ideas ensures greater reflection of your customer base, as well as new ways of tackling issues or connecting with clients.
You will notice the benefits to your bottom line too – engaged employees tend to go the extra mile for their organisation, which creates a ripple effect on profitability, morale and retention.
At Shakespeare Martineau, our people and their individuality is what makes us who we are and enables our business to thrive. Our culture is built on recognising and celebrating our differences and individual strengths, learning about what makes us each unique, and ensuring we can be ourselves at work.
In 2017, we set-up More in Common, an equality, diversity and inclusion network that helps to raise awareness and educate our people in many different aspects of diversity across our business and celebrate those special occasions that help us understand traditions and cultures.
We have signed the Women in Law Pledge and committed to appointing a senior leader or member to be accountable for gender, diversity and inclusion. We have also launched 30 responsible business ambitions, including increased representation of women and people of colour in senior roles. Less than a year into these pledges, ethnic minority percentage of our membership has improved and we have passed our 10% target, and female percentage of our membership is up 1%.
However, we recognise we still have more to do, and we are looking forward to listening to, learning from, and collaborating with like-minded businesses and leaders at this year’s Anthropy.