Interim Head of Diversity and Inclusion (6m FTC)


Gowling WLG is an international law firm with more than 1,400 legal professionals and a presence in Canada, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. We provide our clients with in-depth expertise in key global sectors and a suite of legal services at home and abroad. We see the world from the perspective of our clients, and collaborate across countries, offices, service areas and sectors to help them succeed – no matter how challenging the circumstances.

'Our people and distinct culture are what makes us different. We know this through client and employee feedback and this drives everything we do'' Chris Oglethorpe, HR Director.

This is an incredibly exciting time to join us as Diversity, Inclusion and Social Responsibility continue to be elevated to the front and centre of our business, our client's agenda and society.  Come and show us how you can live up to our core values including "We all bring something different".

There are great opportunities for all our people to flourish. Through training and personal development they can grow in their role. Our people are the cornerstone of our success, across legal, business support and early talent. We care about their happiness and believe in the power of teamwork. We want them to feel empowered and recognise that by supporting, respecting and embracing everyone's different contributions we achieve more.

Working flexibly, working fairly

Agile working offers people more freedom and flexibility in where, when, and how they work. As technology advances and our workforce becomes more diverse – and with clients often working to a 24/7 rhythm – having extra flexibility is key to helping us balance work and other commitments sensibly and productively.

By supporting people to choose where and when they get their work done, we help them to make a full and fair contribution to their team – while maintaining that all important work-life balance.

Main purpose of the role: 

To determine and oversee implementation of  the firm's responsible business strategy encompassing:

·        Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing

·        Community investment (pro bono, volunteering and charitable giving)

·        Collaborative working programme (liaising with clients, suppliers, competitors and other third parties to extend the reach of our responsible business activities)

To represent the firm externally in relation to our diversity, inclusion and corporate responsibility agenda. 

Location: Birmingham (There is flexibility with the location but travel will be required to our Birmingham office once circumstances allow).

Direct reports:       2                      

Indirect reports:  1

Budgetary / financial responsibility: Responsible for setting and managing spend within D&I & CR budgets.

Key relationships:

·        Internal – Chairman and HR Director, Board members, Partners, Practice and Team Leaders, Business Services Directors, HR team, facilities team, reception team, communications team,  trustees of the firm's Charitable Trust

·        External – Clients, suppliers, charities and community groups, , Law Society, SRA, pro bono brokers, D&I consultants, Business in the Community, corporate responsibility networks, Institute of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, membership organisations (eg Stonewall, Working Families, Business Disability Forum).

Key responsibilities:

D&I and Wellbeing

·        Develop and lead the firm’s Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing strategy and oversee the approach to progressing each strategic agenda.

·        Working with HR colleagues, ensure D&I is seamlessly embedded across the full employee lifecycle, from attraction and selection, promotion and development, to leavers and returners.

·        Ensure Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing is seen as a key part of our wider Engagement strategy and EVP. 

·        Develop and deploy effective solutions to enhance the firm's progress on D&I across our UK LLP international offices.  Identify opportunities to collaborate with counterparts in Gowling WLG in Canada.  Work in conjunction with key internal stakeholders to ensure that the approaches are robust, consistent and accountabilities are clear across the firm.

·        Track the effectiveness of D&I solutions and provide meaningful data to key internal stakeholders, to create insight and to influence opinion.

·        Be a visible representative of the firm's commitment to Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing, both internally and externally, finding meaningful ways to promote the firm's progress (such as external awards and standards).

·        Build strong and effective relationships with key internal stakeholder groups, employee networks and diversity champions.

·        Manage the D&I Manager, empowering them to manage a broad remit.

·        Oversee the operations of the firm's five employee networks (covering gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and parents & carers).

·        Identify and promote adoption of new policies relating to our people such as the adoption of the Living Wage, recognition for pro bono hours, volunteering leave, consistent with responsible business best practice

Community investment

·        Devise, manage and monitor delivery of community investment programme encompassing pro bono, volunteering activities for all partners and staff and charitable giving

·        Manage relationships with large charities clients (pro bono) and multiple community partners

·        Oversee the activities of the CR manager

External partners/collaboration/other

·        Promote the firm's D&I and  corporate responsibility credentials to clients and third parties (including  public speaking, acting as expert panel member, use of social media) including the press

·        Represent the firm in D&I and corporate responsibility bodies and  membership organisations

·        Engage with key suppliers to identify opportunities for collaboration and ensuring suppliers follow the firm's corporate responsibility and D&I related policies and practices

·        Responsible for D&I and corporate responsibility related content of intranet and website


Role specific knowledge:

·        Has held a senior management position in Diversity & Inclusion with a track record of influencing Board level stakeholders.

·        Extensive experience of Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing strategy, preferably within a law firm or partnership environment.

·        Technical knowledge – a strong grasp of leading edge D&I practices and deep technical knowledge of the field of D&I.

·        Commercial awareness – a track record of delivering value for money D&I and CR programmes and interventions, which have a material impact in progressing organisational culture.

·        Strong communications skills

·        Excellent ability to influence at all levels internally and externally including partners, clients and contractors and be resilient to challenge

·        Experience of public speaking and use of social media

·        Experience of drafting client proposal documents and intranet/website content/articles/other materials

Equal Opportunities:

Gowling WLG is committed both to promoting equality and diversity in the firm and to Equal Opportunities in employment.  The firm believes in equality of opportunity regardless of race or racial group (including colour, nationality, ethnicity, national origins), religion or belief, age, disability, sexual orientation, sex, gender re-assignment and gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy, maternity and paternity.  This also includes any incidents of perceptive or associative discrimination and harassment.

At Gowling WLG we seek to attract and retain talented people from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures, to create an exciting and rewarding place to work.  Our aim is to fulfil everyone's potential and together to achieve personal and business goals.

Standard hours of work are 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Monday to Friday with 1 hour for lunch (35 hours per week).  We will consider requests for flexible working, please indicate on your application if you wish to work different hours.

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