Michelle de Kluyver raises unconscious bias awareness as the key to diversity in the legal industry.
It’s a discipline that combines strategy, legal analysis, investigative skill and the management of collateral issues, all of which I enjoy. One is getting to the bottom of issues while managing multiple business and legal risks for the client. It’s also a developing area of law where fairness and strong governance play an important role in getting the process right.
The challenges that women face in the legal sector are not unique and many are common across the professional services sector. The path to partnership in law has traditionally been very linear and that favours a non-diverse group - including, but not only, from a gender perspective.
Yes. There is buy in to the diversity objective but it hasn’t been achieved. We have to understand what structures and behaviours remain that are still contributing to that.
Sponsorship has a vital role to play in promoting diversity, as does addressing unconscious bias. There’s been some great work in recognising unconscious bias at a general level, but to conquer it we have to remind ourselves of diversity values during those moments when critical decisions are being made. I have seen this done very effectively.
It’s hugely important and I get asked about it a lot by female candidates. It’s not enough on its own however, as the best talent are looking for firm-wide commitment. We all want to work in a place where we can be our best selves and thrive.
People skills. Language skills. Technology skills. Adaptability. Business awareness. Cultural awareness. The skills to create a cohesive working environment and to contribute to positive change. The ability to be results oriented with assertion, rather than aggression – to be able to take others with you. The passion and enthusiasm to make a difference.