Diversity and Inclusion are crucial to Weil’s future, defining the Firm’s values and day-to-day work. We spoke with members of the Firm’s D&I committees to learn more…
A Spotlight on the Race & Ethnicity and Women@Weil by Reena Gogna
Hi, I am Reena, a Partner in the London Banking & Finance team. I am also the Co-chair of the London Inclusion Committee, Chair of the Women@Weil network, Co-chair of the Work-life Taskforce, and sit on the Global Diversity Committee. We have a comprehensive diversity and inclusion structure with lean committees, inclusive sub-committees, and active affinity networks. The education piece is crucial for all our inclusion initiatives. We do not assume that we know the right path, so we take time to research and fully understand the issue. This learning comes from external providers, but also from our own employees; the contribution of trainees is enormously valuable.
Diversity and inclusion is not a tick box exercise; it is not happening overnight; it is about meaningful initiatives.
We have taken the education piece further within a Race & Ethnicity Subcommittee and have run a successful reverse mentoring pilot. We put together an associate mentor with a partner mentee, reversing the traditional hierarchy. Mentees are given the space to ask questions and better understand issues around ethnicity and the diverse experiences of BAME associates. These partners then become influencers at the most senior levels of the Firm. Alongside this programme, we have had a series of speakers on different aspects of BAME British history, including historian David Olusoga. The impact of these initiatives on the office is clear, with broader engagement at all levels.
Improving inclusivity and diversity requires that we recruit, retain, and progress our diverse staff. Our employees benefit from sponsors who actively support them to achieve their professional goals and mentors who act as valuable sounding boards. We recently delivered a Women@Weil career development day with panellists from across the Firm, sharing tools for professional development, first-hand experience, and practical tips for progressing your career to partner or counsel. The programme was fantastic and attended by many of our female associates, trainees, and vacation scheme candidates.
A Spotlight on the Disability by Taymour Keen
Hi, I am Taymour, Counsel in the Structured Finance team in Weil’s London office and Chair of the Disability Subcommittee. Of all the diversity strands, disability is commonly overlooked. At Weil, we recognise that it is our responsibility to create a culture that supports and values our disabled employees and those with disabled family members.
Making these changes opens a pool of talent with unique perspectives that can drive Weil into the future.
I am enormously proud that our commitment to inclusion comes from the very top. Our managing partner is not just open to ideas but shows genuine commitment and a sincere desire to make a difference. Our pro bono work reflects these values, with Weil lawyers supporting disability organisations with over 3’000 hours of pro bono legal advice in 2021 alone. We are working with external organisations to understand the challenges disabled employees face and to give our employees the vocabulary to have open conversations. There is a firmwide willingness to learn, a shift in focus from disability to ability, and a normalisation of difference more broadly. When I first joined Weil, I was nervous that I would stand out as someone without a ‘posh accent’ and who was not Oxford educated. I spoke with one of the inclusion committee chairs, and they said that difference was to be celebrated, and in fact, it has helped my relationship with clients.
A Spotlight on Social Mobility by Robert Powell
Hi, I am Rob, Director of Pro Bono & Corporate Responsibility at Weil and chair of our Social Mobility Committee. Historically careers in law were disproportionately accessible to a privileged few, and we recognise that this reputation persists. At Weil we are working hard to break down barriers to inclusion, so we can attract the best talent. A diverse team builds trusting relationships with clients and delivers innovative work, so socio-economic diversity really is essential to Weil’s success.
You never have to change or hide who you are to thrive at Weil.
Whatever your background, if you feel Weil is the right Firm for you, we would love you to apply. In our efforts to create change we work with, and are always learning from, social mobility organisations such as Prime and SEO. Using tools such as Rare’s Contextual Recruitment System we are able to identify applicants with the greatest potential. To grow our impact we developed our own Widening Entry into Law programme which supports around 350 state school students each year to develop essential employability skills.
A Spotlight on WeilPride by Chris Marks
Hi, I am Chris, a Partner in the London Litigation team and chair of the WeilPride network. Adopting policies to support LGBTQ+ people is always front of mind at Weil. We give full medical coverage to trans employees who wish to go through surgery, and we offered shared parental leave to same-sex parents well before it was implemented nationally. In the London office, 10% of the partnership identify as LGBTQ+. Gone are the days when diversity commitments were buried in the back of the brochure, and at Weil, we are working to be at the forefront of this change.
I came out at work because of the support from WeilPride. It is the first time I found myself in a place and culture where I could be 100% myself.
I first got involved in WeilPride as a trainee. I had the opportunity to organise a major charity event and do pro bono work for LGBTQ+ advocacy groups. WeilPride’s mission is multi-layered: we provide a forum for LGBTQ+ employees, we offer informal and formal mentoring, we organise social events, and we run educational initiatives across the Firm. For Pride Month, we had webinars on trans inclusion, intersectionality, and LGBTQ+ rights across Europe. This really is an international, firmwide commitment, and every two years, we join together for a global WeilPride conference. Instead of allies, the network has ‘upstanders’, which describes someone who takes active steps to educate themselves, advocate, go to training sessions and mentor people from that particular group. The ‘upstander’ quality is central to our company culture.
A Spotlight on Mental Health by Thea Lewis
Hi, I am Thea, Head of Professional Development at Weil and a member of the Firm’s Wellness Committee. From their first week, trainees discover that wellbeing is a central part of professional development at Weil. Trainees receive comprehensive mentorship, attend a dedicated talk on preserving good mental health, and have access to an on-site psychotherapist and a ‘stronger minds’ service with AXA health insurance. Mental wellbeing resources are constantly evolving to support the needs of our employees. At Weil, changes are not held back by layers of bureaucracy. If it is going to help people, then we are going to do it. Over the lockdown, we set up a bi-weekly tea break discussing topics such as chronic pain, PTSD, changing restrictions and stress. Trainees right up to our managing partner attended and openly discussed the challenges they face. After the meetings, employees who were struggling have come forward to say how empowered and supported they now feel.
Whatever way you look at it, Weil is an incredibly compassionate place to work.