Linklaters receives first ever NES accreditation

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Global law firm Linklaters is the first organisation to achieve certification against the National Equality Standard (NES) – an initiative that helps organisations promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

At present, there are about 200 organisations being NES assessed across seven categories and 70 competencies.

At a breakfast reception (pictured) in London yesterday, Linklaters diversity and inclusion partner Euan Clarke said the accreditation process took over a year, but was valuable because it helped the firm highlight areas it needed to improve.

Clarke said improving diversity and inclusion will help the firm attract a broad range of talent from different backgrounds – something the legal sector is not best known for.

“If you want to be the very best in whatever sphere you operate in, you need the best people to do it,” he said. “And that isn’t necessarily the people knocking outside your door in the recruitment process, they could be from different universities to the ones you usually go to.

“There needs to be a diversity of thought and the approaches of the way we do work… people want innovation and imagination, and you are not going to have that if everyone comes from the same place and has been educated in the same way.”

Linklaters has adopted a gender diversity target of 30% female representation on its executive committee and board by 2018.

Another company that is addressing diversity and being NES assessed is EDF Energy. The energy supplier has a workforce of engineers that are typically white, middle-aged men and nearing retirement. EDF Energy head of strategic resourcing Fiona Jackson, who contributed to a panel discussion at the event, said the company is in need of “crew change”.

“A lot of our talent is going to retire so where are we going to find the skills that we need to not only run our existing power stations but build the new ones?” she said.

“We need to be attractive to what is 50% of the population, and ethnic minorities. [Engineering] is not a sexy profession, so you have to make it as easy as possible to attract them and then keep them… and we’ve got to sort those things out with leadership that comes from a generation and background that hasn’t had those issues.”

Launched by EY in 2013, the NES was developed in partnership with 20 organisations, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and blue chip companies such as Microsoft and Vodafone.

Arun Batra, an EY advisory director and CEO of the NES, said the first certification was a pivotal moment for the UK.

“For the first time industry and government have joined forces to set a robust national standard that provides businesses with a range of indicators to help them create sustainable change and demonstrate exceptional practice,” he said.

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