We are delighted to launch the sixth year of our pioneering mentoring scheme, in partnership with LGBT+ young people's charity Just Like Us, aimed at providing LGBT+ graduates with the skills, confidence and support they need as they transition from university life to full time employment. This year the scheme is welcoming 54 mentors, its highest cohort to date.
Entering the workplace can be daunting experience for LGBT+ people. Many LGBT+ people come out at university, but a staggering 41 per cent go back into the closet when they start their careers. Having to conceal your identity or sexual orientation can have a major impact on one's ability to have a productive and fulfilling career. Research conducted by Stonewall demonstrates that people perform better when they can be themselves. They will be more productive, feel able to build better relationships with their colleagues and ultimately better serve the needs of their clients and service users. Promoting greater LGBT+ inclusion is therefore not only the right thing to do, it also makes business sense too.
The firm has worked closely with Just Like Us in developing the scheme since its launch in 2016, including sourcing mentors, providing training, and creating resources and guidance for mentors and mentees. As well as helping develop the mentoring scheme, Travers Smith works closely with Just Like Us including pro bono legal work on policies, governance, data protection, IP and other general legal issues. Our Head of Pensions and Partner Daniel Gerring has volunteered with the charity since its very early days and chairs its board of trustees. Throughout his time at Travers Smith, Daniel has mentored individuals at all levels both within the firm and outside it. This longstanding commitment to mentorship resulted in the 2021 British Legal Awards naming him Mentor of the Year.
This year's 54 mentors once again come from diverse backgrounds within the LGBT+ community and are drawn from a broad range of industries. Mentees will be paired with individuals from the fields of journalism, finance, the arts, charity, and many more. The legal sector is well represented, with a number of Travers Smith staff taking part as mentors, including Knowledge Lawyer David Bufton and Associate Hannah Macdonald.
Speaking about the new programme, Daniel Gerring, Chair of Just Like Us and Travers Smith Partner, said:
"I am delighted to see this fantastic mentoring scheme enter its sixth year – bigger and better than ever. Over the years I have seen, at first hand, the transformational power that effective mentoring can have. Providing young LGBT+ people with the tools to be themselves and reach their full potential as they enter the working world is of more importance now than for many years. And being a mentor is a privilege and education too. My sincere thanks to all involved in making this programme such a success. "
Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive, Just Like Us commented:
"As Chief Executive of Just Like Us I'm thrilled that this programme is now entering its sixth consecutive year. Being an LGBT+ young person can still be unacceptably tough and all too often LGBT+ young people don't have anyone to discuss how to navigate the sometimes complicated issues that can arise from entering the workplace as an LGBT+ person. I would like to sincerely thank our partners, Travers Smith and all of our mentors who have given their time to ensure that young people are supported during this important transitional phase."
Travers Smith Associate Hannah MacDonald said:
"Being able to bring your whole self to work is something that has always been very important to me, particularly as an LGBT+ person. I am really looking forward to working with young LGBT+ people to help them feel empowered to do so and to support them as they navigate the beginning stages of their career."
Sal Francis Morton, Research and Content Associate at Chambers Student commented:
"It can be very difficult for young queer people to enter the workplace as their full selves, with compounding difficulties for trans individuals. I’m excited to be part of this year’s mentoring scheme and hope to act as a guide in promoting a confident, proud, safe and sustainable attitude towards navigating a career as an LGBTQ person."
2022 mentor Serrena, said:
"I've been lucky enough to access mentoring and support from LGBTQ+ professionals in my career. It's been truly transformative, helping me to understand and achieve my potential. In a context where 41% of LGBT+ people aged 18-25 go 'back into the closet' when starting work, there is immense power in growing with someone who genuinely understands your experiences.
That's why I was so excited to volunteer for Just Like Us' mentoring programme. They provide the perfect support and structures to make sure all members of our community can access these opportunities. As it was such an invaluable experience for me, I couldn't pass up a chance to offer that support back to our community."
Dr Rakesh Anand, Clinical Dermatologist at Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust:
"I did not have any relatable role models growing up. Although that is something I can’t change for myself, I feel passionately about contributing to schemes like this that promote diversity and inclusivity. I’m so proud to be part of this year's mentoring scheme, working with such talented people and helping them to reach their full potential. From my previous involvement, I’ve realised that mentorship is a two-way process and I’ve learnt so much about authenticity and leadership that has helped in both my personal and professional life."