Lawrie IP is a growing law firm specialising in intellectual property.
As part of their ongoing commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive culture, Head of operations Simon Taylor, wanted to ensure all the firm’s policies were framed in a consistent and inclusive way.
This was a well thought through approach – if we are to encourage more inclusive language across our organisations, one of the first places to start is with our policies. These set the standards we expect of our people, so they should be role modelling an inclusive approach.
But it can be easy to fall into language that inadvertently excludes others and perpetuates stereotypes.
We suggested working with both the Policy unit and the People group to develop everyone’s skills to review all the policies, through the lens of inclusion. We also designed the session so that the firm would have the skills to write new policies in house, when needed.
- The first step was to help everyone understand more about unconscious bias and how assumptions and stereotypes can shape our thinking and language.
- We helped the groups look at examples of insensitive, excluding language and the inclusive alternatives and also linked the review of the policies to their Values.
- The People group then paired up to look at specific policies using their new awareness and knowledge to make recommendations.
- A follow up session allowed everyone to come back together to share their ideas and actions to take forward.
The participants identified a range of practical actions, which extended beyond the policy review – for example, to apply the learning to internal procedures, website wording and their corporate glossary.
There was also wider understanding of how bias can stifle creativity and diversity of thought, and actions were identified to mitigate this risk.
Diane Cameron, Director and EDI lead commented “This has been an invaluable piece of work and we have got so much more out of it than expected. We knew the policies were a really important piece of the jigsaw and the sessions have also made us think about how we interact, make decisions and challenge each other. Focal Point’s knowledge in this area and highly facilitative style created an environment where everyone felt able to explore and contribute and we are already seeing a change in the way that we think about policies and the language we use as a result”.