As a firm we are deeply shocked and concerned by the continued mistreatment of black people in the US, particularly in the wake of the recently reported deaths of those like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. It is also important for us to recognise that racial injustice is not an issue unique to the US but a reality for people across the world, including the UK.
The events of the last week, and the Black Lives Matter movement more broadly, have been a stark reminder that we need to do more. We need to recognise the systemic inequalities which exist and redouble our efforts to effect tangible change in our workplace and the wider community. It is no longer enough for individuals to say they are not racist; we all need to be proactively anti-racist.
Travers Smith BAME allyship initiative
It is not the responsibility of people from minority groups to create a fairer society, instead we believe that task sits on the shoulders of allies and those, regardless of their ethnicity, in positions of influence. To help people on their path towards effective allyship, we have developed a booklet aimed at supporting people to become more effective allies to the BAME community.
Initially launched in November 2019, the booklet outlines 10 actions that allies can take to promote greater BAME inclusion in the legal industry, as well as our wider society. The proposals outlining effective allyship in the booklet have been developed in consultation with members of the BAME community, including athletes, human rights advocates and artists, and are based on the principles highlighted in industry and government reports on BAME inclusion.
Over the coming weeks, we will be rolling out a series of seminars for people across the firm aimed at helping them put the proposals in the booklet into action and ensure that they feel confident and empowered to be effective allies to the BAME community. These sessions complement a broader series focussed on tackling micro-aggressions and racial biases, which we launched in early 2019.
Supporting our people
We recognise the ongoing situation is deeply distressing for many communities represented within the firm, as well as their friends and families. As a firm, we are committed to supporting and listening to our BAME colleagues, and have been actively consulting with our BAME network group to ensure that our anti-racism initiatives are as authentic and meaningful as possible. In addition, we will be providing opportunities for BAME, particularly black, people at the firm to share their experiences and reflections on racial injustice.
Pro bono support
We will continue to provide pro bono support to projects aimed at promoting diverse talent and tackling systemic racism and privilege. These include sponsoring and working with Justice on a major research project examining BAME disproportionality in the Youth Justice System, with a view to making positive recommendations for change and reducing racial disparities in the youth justice system. We have also been providing ongoing pro bono support to UNDEREXPOSED ARTS a not for profit, social enterprise, celebrating black British, dual heritage African/Caribbean talent and promoting aspiration through arts-led initiatives.
We will continue to work closely with our diversity, CSR and pro bono partners - including Rare Recruitment, Your Start-up, Your Story, The Good Lad Initiative, Refugees at Home, GiveOut, and more – to help dismantle structural racism and to better support our BAME, particularly black, communities. We are also actively looking at further opportunities to financially support organisations which are working towards tackling racial injustice.
There will be further steps we take as a firm, and through collective endeavour we can help tackle racism and the barriers which perpetuate inequality