Managing partner of Appleby Jersey James Gaudin talks about how Appleby is ‘leading differently’ in relation to flexible working and equality
AS an industry steeped in heritage and tradition, law firms are often accused of having more traditional employment cultures than other corporates.
Appleby is a legal firm that is taking a proactive and considered approach to making the workplace more inclusive.
We hosted a colleague consultation after the first lockdown. We empowered our colleagues to tell us a) to what degree they felt we had supported them, b) what we could have done better as an employer and, c) what we could learn as a business post-lockdown.
To facilitate the consultation, we hosted lunchtime discussion groups and one-to-one calls and posed the consultation questions in our weekly written communications, team meetings and Friday virtual drinks.
The response was staggering: we achieved a 100% response rate and the consultation feedback comprised 17,000 words. Our colleagues had all experienced lockdown differently but, irrespective of how they were feeling about their time in lockdown, their responses were largely consistent.’
The overriding feedback from colleagues was that:
• They wanted Appleby to embrace and implement flexible working, in the truest sense of the word.
• They wanted us to continue to offer a great training and social experience, while they worked flexibly.
• They wanted to strike a balance between remote and office working and virtual and human interactions.
We therefore decided to empower our colleagues to define their optimum working patterns and introduced “true” flexible working. As a business, we have adapted our approach to training, engagement and communications to best suit a workforce operating flexible working patterns.
We recognise we need to do more than introduce flexible working to create a culture of inclusion, collegiality and accountability. We are learning all the time. Colleagues recently took part in a diversity and inclusion webinar hosted by Kate Wright, from The Diversity Network, where they spoke about what they could do to make Appleby a more inclusive place to work.
We have also been working closely with other businesses who have demonstrated great approaches to diversity and inclusion. This was most notable in our partnership with HSBC where we are learning how best to adapt our policies and practices and develop how we attract, recruit and retain the best talent.
I am, of course, proud to see that efforts such as these are mirrored by colleagues putting words into action. They are coming out in their numbers to support the networks and initiatives we have in place to move toward a more informed and considered diversity policy.
Covid has changed the way businesses operate. It has facilitated the next digital and industrial revolution for the business community, accelerating the transition to flexible working. Businesses who do not adapt will not survive. This is an exciting time and presents an incredible opportunity to lead differently toward a more inclusive working environment.