‘We’ve deliberately moved away from the old annual appraisal’ – Best Employer 2017: Ashfords

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Ashfords head of HR Ken Bryant talks to Legal Week Intelligence.

What is your firm doing to boost diversity and inclusion? “We have been very conscious of the routes into law discussion and related impact on our diversity profile. Last year we saw the first group of apprentices come into the firm. So we’re opening up the legal profession to people who are not only from different backgrounds, but are also making different study and financing choices in terms of whether they go into higher education, or alternatively start a career earlier. The other area we are looking at is female representation. We have a number of females being promoted this year and one of the challenges is to make sure that we continue to see increased female representation right the way through into partnership.”

How do you make staff feel valued? “While pay and benefits is part of it, what we’ve done on learning and development is significant over the past 12 months, combined with the key and ongoing culture and values programme – these initiatives and related engagement programme are all aimed at making people feel valued. The other thing I would emphasise is performance management – not only listening to people and being clear on expectations, but giving them regular feedback. We’ve deliberately moved away from the old annual appraisal – this is all online now and means you can follow up over a coffee on a more regular basis.”

How do you ensure equality and openness around career opportunities? “The L&D team have been working with others across the business to totally review the progression criteria and to ensure those criteria are underpinned by a skills matrix, so that everybody can see what they’ve got to do to achieve the next level in their career path. Historically, what we had was a progression criteria where people could see what they were measured against, but didn’t know how to get there – what we’ve got now is a structure so they can actually see what development they need to go through and what they need to be demonstrating to reach those career levels within the firm.”

Top 3 BER scores – Ashfords

  • The reputation of my practice area/team
  • The level of cooperation and team work within my team
  • The level of client interaction I have

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