How failing to recruit and retain a diverse workforce may lose you the next big mandate, a contribution from Chelsea Bruno and Meera Savjani on behalf of Women in Fund Finance. Although hard to believe, there are still some who do not understand the value of diversity. Despite countless studies providing strong evidence that the most successful companies are those that employ a diverse group of individuals, many maintain homogenous workforces with no intention of diversifying. Although this approach has long gone unchallenged, there is now a growing consciousness within many corporate cultures which is driving companies to hold their external counter parts and service providers accountable for failing to address the issue. It comes as no surprise that some of the more “traditional” industries such as law and finance have been slower to progress in building diverse talent pools, and the clients of these firms have started to notice. In January 2019, more than 170 general counsels and corporate legal officers in the United States signed an open letter to big law firms which criticised these firms for the lack of diversity at the partner level. The letter, which was signed by companies such as Heineken, Vox Media, and S&P Global Ratings, stated that going forward these companies (many of which operate globally) would prioritise their legal spend on those firms that commit to diversity and inclusion. The letter went on to state “we applaud those firms that have worked hard to hire, retain and promote to partnership outstanding and highly accomplished lawyers who are diverse in race, colour, age, gender orientation, sexual orientation, national origin, and religion and without regard to disabilities”1. Although the letter does not set out how these firms plan to measure such level of commitment, it’s clear that these firms are serious about holding their legal counterparts accountable, and when taking a closer look, it’s clear that emphasis on diversity does not stop at these 170 corporations. Across the Atlantic, industry groups in the UK are also pushing to hold big corporates accountable for failing to make meaningful progress when it comes to diversity. As reported by the Guardian in May 2019, the Investment Association (IA), a trade body which represents UK investment managers who in aggregate manage over £7.7tn in AUM, has confronted 94 publicly listed companies for failing to make sufficient progress on gender diversity. The IA has written to each of these companies and raised concerns about the lack of gender diversity in leadership positions. A list of companies which received the highest level of warning from the IA was recently published in the Guardian and confirmed by IA2 , and although some of these companies have responded with statements emphasising efforts to address such issues, it’s clear that shareholders and potential investors will be looking for measurable progress going forward. In line with such expectations, some investors are taking accountability into their own hands, as evidenced by a change implemented by ILPA (the Institutional Limited Partner Association), the global industry body that represents the interest of private equity limited partners. ILPA recently expanded its standard due diligence questionnaire (DDQ) to include a section related to diversity and inclusion, and requires firms fill in a template which aims to measure and report the gender and ethnic diversity of teams by seniority and role. It also includes a section of questions designed to help investors understand a firm’s policies and procedures in areas such as hiring, promotions, family leave, mentoring, and harassment and discrimination. When asked about the updated DDQ, CEO of ILPA Steve Nelson stated “ILPA believes that diversity and inclusion is a strength that all stakeholders within the private equity ecosystem should embrace and promote in meaningful ways,” said Nelson. “The due diligence questionnaire expansion and Code of Conduct guidance represent an opportunity for general partners (GPs) and limited partners (LPs) to have conversations about these important issues, in the spirit of a stronger and ever improving workplace for everyone. We look forward to advancing these ideals which serve as the foundation for a healthy, prosperous industry.”3 As with the other industry groups discussed herein, ILPA is sending a clear message that diversity is no longer an optional. Changes such as the updated DDQ make it increasingly difficult for firms to completely ignore the topic, and although the potential consequences are meaningful in all industries, the cyclicality of fundraising in private equity means the risk associated with failing to adapt could be both severe and expensive. While few would doubt that the conversation around diversity and inclusion has evolved significantly over the past two decades, many are now suggesting that the time has come for the conversation to expand into action. Although just a few examples are discussed herein, it's almost for certain that there will be more letters and questionnaires to come. With the rise of such accountability, the cost of failing to adapt may soon weigh heavy on firms and maintaining the status quo of a homogenous workforce may come to feel like a burden in itself. Thus, firms must ask themselves whether the status quo is worth the missed opportunity that will result. The 10th edition of our highly regarded Market Insight Report represents the views of over 1,100 professionals, and contains insights from our specialist consultants and key business partners on market and employment trends. If you’re looking to find out more on salary benchmarking and the motivations driving the modern workforce today, download our full report which contains key contributions from Western Union Business Solutions,Seddons Solicitors, Intoo UK & Ireland and Breaking the Silence. Cited https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2019/01/27/170-gcs-pen-open-letter-to-law-firms-improve-on-diversity-or-lose-our-business/ https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/13/investor-group-warns-almost-100-firms-over-lack-of-gender-diversity https://www.pr-inside.com/ilpa-publishes-diversity-and-inclusion-resources-f-r4704476.htm
We hosted an Employment Law roundtable on the use of ‘some other substantial reason for dismissal’ (SOSR) at our offices in London. SOSR is a much-underused, potentially fair reason for dismissal, and reflects the commercial and practical realities organisations face, bringing to light the scenarios whereby organisations cannot continue to employ someone. The participants were senior human resource practitioners from a range of businesses and sectors. The event was co-hosted by Seddons Solicitors and chaired by Helen Crossland, a Partner and Head of Employment Law at Seddons, who shared her professional expertise. The aim of the session was to share insights and knowledge on SOSR and how it can be used. Specifically the conversation covered: The practical uses of SOSR - Business reorganisation - Conflict of interest - Conduct causing substantial disruption - Breakdown in trust and confidence - Pressure from third parties - Inability to perform a contracted role - Reputational risk How to implement SOSR (process) Other useful considerations Download our whitepaper which captures the key points from this discussion.
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On Wednesday Marks Sattin collaborated with Charlotte Tilbury in Covent Garden to host a networking event for senior finance professionals within the financial services market. The night was a huge success, with emails pouring in from clients complimenting us on our event. The evening was planned around a master class which was hosted by two of Charlotte’s top make-up artists, using one of our clients as a model. They showed all ladies how to create a glam evening look while taking them through the full range of new and existing products on offer. All whist we sipped on prosecco and nibbled delicious treats. After the masterclass the ladies were treated to a personalised mini lesson where they could choose from a lip, eye or skin tutorial using the best products for their skin type. It was great to watch all of our clients get pampered whilst trying out new looks.To end the evening we gave each lady a voucher to redeem on Charlotte Tilbury products, the team took great care of them and walked them around the shop floor to find their preferred products. This event was a great opportunity for us to catch up with some of our hiring managers in a relaxed environment. We learnt about potential new business coming up, current contractor extensions as well as general market information. It was also a great opportunity to network with some future senior finance professionals that we will be working with. We would like to thank everyone that took the time out of their busy schedules to attend, the evening was a huge success and we hope to see you again at another event during the year!