Law firms aiming for better diversity must give stock to the pace of change that best accords with their unique culture, a Baker & McKenzie partner has said.
Partner Craig Andrade (pictured) is an LGBTI ambassador for Baker & McKenzie. He believes that with diversity’s business case settled, the challenge now is for firms to adopt a pace of change and approach to achieve meaningful impact.
"Firms have to run their own race to make this meaningful because if they don’t they’re going to run out of steam, box themselves into a pace that is not real and can’t sustain. Ultimately, when [firms] set on this journey, they have to look at what benchmarks they are setting for themselves and why," Mr Andrade said.
Mr Andrade is dedicated to initiatives that aim to weave diversity into an authentic firm culture. He said that the way businesses and workplaces engaged with their people would help realise meaningful change and that active listening was key.
"We really have to be strong listeners, which requires good silence but also requires good questions to be asked of people to ensure that they’re engaged and are giving you the information to make the changes you need to make in a meaningful way – so it’s not token, it’s meaningful," Mr Andrade said.
"In the LGBTI space, Baker & McKenzie are focused on three things: our staff, on our clients, on the community. Across those three areas we ask ourselves ‘What do we value? What’s important to us? What is our story? What is our narrative in how we’re going to try and make a difference in the lives of people across all three of those areas?'
“You ultimately have to be conscious of the lived experience of those around you and that is where we’ve tried to temper our own approach, do a reality check and go, 'what do we want to focus on this year?'"
Baker & McKenzie was recently named among Australia’s top 20 Employers of the Year for LGBTI inclusion by Pride In Diversity.
Pride in Diversity generates a national index each year that relies on an annual national survey. The survey gauges the impact that inclusion initiatives have on individuals and workplace culture.
"The fundamental focus we have is really about bringing the entire person, the whole person to the office – when you come to work, you don’t leave parts of yourself behind," Mr Andrade said.
"We have always had as an overriding framework what Pride in Diversity judges employers by as part of the Australian Workplace Equality Index. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to tell our own story and we’ve got to make this meaningful for our staff, our clients and our community," he said.
Baker & McKenzie began benchmarking its workplace activities against the index in 2014.
Corporate partner Craig Andrade is a BakersLGBTI leader