Reed Smith has revealed that its various disability initiatives, established from 2012 onwards, have helped the firm to recruit more diverse junior candidates.
The US-headquartered firm launched its disability taskforce in the wake of the 2012 Paralympics. “We could see the Olympic Park from our office,” says HR director Kevan Skelton. “We saw these athletes doing incredible things and we looked around our office and realised that we did not have a population that included people with disabilities – we wanted to do something about that.”
Reed Smith established partnerships with the Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division, charity EmployAbility, disability consultancy MyPlus Consulting and graduate recruitment resources group Disability Café Club and reserved two places on its 2013 and 2014 vacation schemes for disabled applicants, nominated by the charities.
“We do not reserve places any more, but are getting independent disabled applicants applying,” explained Skelton. “We are in a different place now.”
Of approximately 1,500 training contract applications this year, the firm received 60 applicants from disabled candidates.
The firm interviewed ten of those 60, and offered training contracts to five, all of whom accepted. They will join the firm over the course of 2016 and 1017, during which time the firm will take on 28 trainees in total.
It is understood that the candidates identify as having hidden, sensory and physical disabilities, from being a chair user to having dyslexia and hearing problems, and that they come from a range of universities including Kings College London and the University of Nottingham.
“We have been conscious not to talk about this before we achieved anything,” added Skelton. “We know we are not the end of the journey: we are not a beacon for everyone else to look to.”
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