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15 minutes

Diversity and Inclusion with Gowling WLG: Setting the Stage for Hiring in the Law Sector

24 February, 2022

Bright Network’s partner organisation, international law firm Gowling WLG, share how they are championing diverse candidates from pre-application through to successful hire, building a truly accessible and equitable engagement campaign to support students and graduates from all backgrounds entering the law sector.

Our research shows that 30% of current students and recent graduates think that law is lacking in diversity. This impactful partnership looked to bring about real-change for the sector.

Through our partnership together, Gowling sought to: 

  • Understand the ambitions and concerns of today’s diverse students
  • Build tailored pathways and impactful campaigns for students from underrepresented backgrounds
  • Support diverse students onto their vacation and graduate schemes, through upskilling and boosting their employability

Gowling shaped these insights into actionable steps - transforming their approach by providing an accessible and equitable engagement campaign, as well as using insights from Bright Network’s research to better understand today’s students and graduates. For example, our research at Bright Network from our 600,000+ members, highlighted: 

  • 92% of students were slightly or very worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their job prospects.
  • 42% of black heritage students felt their background has hindered them in the application process, and nearly a third of state-educated students felt the same.

Gowling WLG have used these and other insights in their ongoing, long-term diversity and inclusion project to build a truly inclusive and welcoming application process for candidates, as well as in their onboarding and working culture for early talent. 

To achieve this, Gowling used Bright Network’s Data Insights Tool, allowing them to firstly target specific socio-economic or diverse groups of students, and to also identify Bright Network members with a particular interest in exploring a future career in law. 

In turn, Gowling WLG continues to work with Bright Network’s Talent Team to create personalised touchpoints - including through their one-to-one calling approach and personal messaging - to ensure that no candidate feels disadvantaged due to a lack of understanding about the sector. They also deploy coaching at certain stages of the application process to ensure accessibility for all. Gowling’s own in-house upskilling events also provide real-world insights into the law sector. 

These initiatives continue to result in industry-leading open-rates across all communications and have allowed Gowling to successfully reach candidates that might not consider applying as a result of their employability concerns. 

The direct impact of this tailored approach, includes: 

  • By using Bright Network’s data engine, Gowling has curated a successful multi-channel outreach campaign, achieving an engagement rate with 70% of those interested in learning more about the firm’s roles.
  • 78% of all engagement came from black heritage members, and Gowling achieved 37% conversion amongst black heritage students last year for their vacation scheme.
  • 957 applications were directly from Bright Network members, which was two-thirds of the total applications received.

For law firms looking to achieve similar impact, Gowling’s key initiatives focus on:

  • Identifying where specific groups of underrepresented applicants were disproportionately not converting in their application process, then addressing this with tailored coaching and support to ensure all candidates understand the process.
  • Aligning bespoke messaging and events with relevant groups of students, ensuring that candidates do not feel alienated or disenfranchised, but supported and immersed in Gowling’s inclusive culture.
  • Finding new ways to connect with groups of students who may not consider the law sector or who lack an understanding of the process, such as through specialist events or targeted digital outreach.

Creating an authentic dialogue and welcoming culture for our future leaders is more important than ever, particularly in light of the challenges faced by young people entering the working world throughout the pandemic. 

Through their ongoing and personalised hiring approach, Gowling WLG have set the stage in the law industry by creating a truly inclusive recruitment strategy for their vacation schemes and graduate positions. Our partnership with Gowling WLG is improving accessibility to young people from all backgrounds entering the law sector, whilst highlighting the power of upskilling and personalised campaigns to connect with hard-to-reach talent.