Individuals from across the globe signed up for our latest online event, Diversity Matters: Ethnic Diversity where we brought together leading voices in law and education to discuss the importance of ethnic diversity in the workplace on Thursday, October 14th.
As with previous events, ULaw Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Patrick Johnson hosted the evening. He introduced the event by saying, “This event is a welcoming space to discuss, encourage and advocate for diversity and inclusion.”
Patrick went on to introduce the first speaker of the evening, trainee solicitor at Trowers & Hamlins LLP and ULaw alumna Diana Lupa. Diana shared her journey to becoming a trainee solicitor at an international law firm, the challenges encountered and how diversity should be a top priority for students when researching firms.
“Any student should push for diversity and inclusion because a firm that values that is a firm that actually wants to attract the top talent, that actually wants to have the best people irrespective of other elements. It’s just based on merit. If they take that into account, it means they will treat you very well, and you’ll feel like you are part of a team. Those firms realise that a team of diverse people, with diverse backgrounds, who have different experiences of life, bother personal and professional, will definitely come up with the best ideas.”
The second speaker of the evening was ULaw’s National Programme and Student Affairs Director Jacqueline Cheltenham. Jacqueline shared insights into how she works with staff and students on key areas to improve Ethnic Diversity.
“As a university, we’ve appointed dedicated widening participation staff, and these staff have formed part of a wider series of widening participation committees. Those committees are dedicated to ensuring parity for all our students, including the BAME students. I myself sit on one of those widening participation committees. Out of those committees has come the Racial Awarding Gap Committee, which is dealing with students who are from a BAME background and have a lower percentage getting the best grades and passing the various courses at the university. Out of that group has come the BAME Advocates. The BAME Advocates, as you may already know, are students who apply for the position, who are interviewed, and then those chosen are appointed BAME Advocates. They are a very important part of us trying to find out what will improve the outcomes for BAME students.”
The third speaker of the evening was visiting lecturer and BAME advocate at The University of Law, Ibrahim Ilyas. Ibrahim spoke about his journey to the Bar so far and the importance of being an ally.
“To be an ally is more than just expressing sympathy for a cause, such as BAME interests and rights. It’s about actively taking on the struggle as your own. You must illustrate not only what the true meaning of what allyship is, but how one can go about this in our day to day lives…some points include using one’s personal power and privilege to help others, assist in making positive change from the top and carry out your moral duty to better understand the struggle of others and working towards real tangible solutions.”
The final speaker was ULaw Widening Participation Fundraiser and Coordinator Fatmata Daramy.
“It is really important when looking at how to make a workplace or an institution more ethnically diverse, to actually look at the proportion of people you have who fit that criteria. Then, also looking at what their specific issues are…We know that students having role models and having people they think can understand them and represent them is very important. However, if we are having a mismatch in recruiting, we then have to look at what the criteria is for recruiting these people that work in our organisation.”
The speakers took questions from the audience, including topics such as defining ethnic diversity and what businesses are doing to assist people from diverse backgrounds.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for this important and thought-provoking event.
Our next event in the series, Diversity Matters – Disability, is on 2nd December at 6pm. For further information and to register your attendance for this free-of-charge event, please check your student email.