Diversity is the lifeblood of any business

2020 has seen a global challenge unlike any other in the form of COVID-19. Yet, while it has undoubtedly changed the way we work, for now at least, it has also put the spotlight on individuals, on their resilience and on their ability to be themselves.

Like many businesses, in the space of 24 hours our working dynamic changed. We went from being an office-based global law firm with 38 offices (now 39 as we even managed to open one in the midst of the pandemic) to operating from over 2,100 homes across the globe.

Be Kennedys, Be Kind.

In doing so, it created a new mantra at Kennedys: Be Kennedys, Be Kind. It is a recognition that there is no blueprint for living and working through a global pandemic and that individuals will deal with their personal and professional challenges differently. And that’s OK.

The pandemic has brought the need for authenticity to the fore. For the first time in my career there has been a genuine recognition that ‘we’re all in it together’ and through those shared experiences new cultural norms have been formed.

For business leaders like myself, when I’ve not always known what was coming next or had all of the answers, what’s left than to be your authentic self? Never did I think I would be sending weekly videos to our global team bemoaning my lack of hair cut or with my dog lounging over me. But extraordinary times have allowed for a different approach. And this has resonated with colleagues across the globe who have come forward to share their experiences and be heard.

I come from a generation where there was a distinct lack of diversity and equality in the workplace when I first entered it. Having a voice was only encouraged if you were senior. Thankfully, the legal profession and insurance industry have made significant strides to address this. Who would have thought that I would be hosting a diversity webinar series as a law firm leader welcoming a transgender speaker with literally hundreds across the world participating? But we must not take our eye off the ball. There is much to do.

Our core values of being Approachable, Straightforward, Supportive and Distinctive underpin an authentic culture, allowing voices to be heard. No one will ever feel like they are excluded at Kennedys because of their gender, gender identity, age, cultural background, sexual orientation, social background, faith, caring responsibilities, mental health or physical challenges. I want to lead a firm that is not afraid to talk about diversity in all its forms.

Even though the Dive In Festival is an annual event, it is clear that the insurance industry has embraced the principles behind it. I see real commitment and time being given by our insurer clients on a daily basis to ensure they are diverse and inclusive businesses.

I have worked hard all my career to rally against discrimination of any sort and promote diversity and inclusion. And why wouldn’t I? Apart from being the right thing to do, I’ve only ever seen diversity deliver success. Diverse minds bring many options. In this constantly-evolving world why would a business not want to engage the many, instead of the few?

As an early pioneer of legal apprenticeships, Kennedys has been actively recruiting from schools and colleges, allowing us to reach a much wider range of backgrounds, for eight years now. Our apprentices are in high demand across the business, as colleagues recognise the many benefits they bring and many of them have now qualified as solicitors.

Having diversity in a business brings a melting pot of views and experiences that can only make us stronger. Diversity is the lifeblood of any business.

This article was originally published in the Dive In 2020 festival brochure.