At NautaDutilh, we want to empower everyone within our firm to make a meaningful contribution. In an organisation and an environment where we are confident that we will have opportunities to grow, participate and be heard, where we are compensated fairly, and where each of us can excel. Knowing that our contribution is valued and that our work matters is what enables us to raise the bar together.
We are committed to fostering an inclusive and safe environment, in which each of our colleagues can bring their whole selves to work and is respected and recognised as a valuable participant in our firm. Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) is more than policies, programmes, or headcounts. The data on diversity are nonetheless an important indication of where we stand. Our aim is to have a balanced gender ratio at all senior levels (i.e. partners and counsels, and directors and managers within our business support teams) and 20% cultural diversity firm-wide by 2025.
We achieved an increase of the female-male ratio of nearly 30% compared to 2021. At the end of 2022, our male-female ratio at senior level was 40% female – 60% male, compared to 31% versus 69% in 2021. We made this positive shift in 2022 partly thanks to the hiring of more women at senior level than men and appointing more female partners than male (eight compared to four). Due to regulatory restraints, we do not yet have data on cultural diversity. We are currently reviewing how we can collect these data.
In 2022, we appointed a dedicated I&D specialist. She initiated a three-year roadmap (2023-2025) in which we build on our I&D approach in previous years. We will focus on reviewing our goals and strategy, raising awareness, initiating I&D initiatives, and monitoring our results.
While the data show that we are on the right track, we realise that we still have steps to take to become a truly inclusive organisation in which the processes for fostering inclusion are an integral part of how we work together across the whole firm. What this entails in practice will continue to change, given the fact that what inclusion means at a given point in time will keep evolving because of social developments.
Setting the tone
Setting the tone starts at the top. In addition to female partners in our board of management and female heads of staff in our Executive Committee, three of our offices - London, Luxembourg and New York – are led by female managing partners: Willianne van Zandwijk, Josée Weydert and Elizabeth van Schilfgaarde respectively. The male managing partner of our Brussels office, Dirk van Gerven, is an outspoken I&D advocate.
In 2022, we appointed two partners, Petra Zijp and Geert Raaijmakers, as Inclusion Partners. Their role is to contribute to furthering inclusion and diversity within our firm and the legal sector. An inspiring example of how this can take shape was Petra’s call to action on social media in November 2022 to give talented female dealmakers the opportunity to shine, after publication of the shortlist for the 2022 Dutch M&A Awards, where out of the 42 nominees, 41 were men. Following up on the many reactions on social media, NautaDutilh organised a round table in February 2023 with a panel of business leaders to discuss what we can do together to make the legal sector more diverse and inclusive.
We have several other I&D trailblazers in the firm. For instance, our Brussels office has an active Think Diversity Committee, which organised numerous awareness-raising activities in 2022. Examples are training sessions for HR professionals and partners to improve the recruitment process and workplace inclusion, screening of a renowned film on the position of women, and retaining the Diversity Label of the Brussels Minister of Employment.
I&D is one of the main topics on the agenda of our Young Professionals Board, in line with the interest in the advancement of inclusion among our millennial and Gen Z colleagues. In 2022, one of our senior associates (co)developed and organised ‘How to create an equal, safe and inclusive working environment’ workshops for teams in our Amsterdam and Rotterdam offices. We also continued organising gender-inclusive language workshops and workshops about diversity, equity & inclusion in the workplace for our colleagues, clients, and other law firms. We find it important to also use the law as an instrument for positive change in the field of I&D through our pro bono work (for an example of our work, see the text box on the discrimination of same-sex couples, in the chapter Our society).
Our fringe benefits should also reflect our commitment to inclusion. In 2022, we expanded our parental leave and birth leave policies for all colleagues under a Dutch employment contract to all parents, regardless of gender or family composition, and formally included gender affirmation leave in our leave policy.
In 2022, we also took steps to create a more inclusive recruitment process. We provided training and guidance and expanded our recruitment channels. We are in the process of reviewing the current recruitment process in the Netherlands to make sure we tackle blind spots and bias. We also joined Bridges Network, an initiative of several lawyers and professionals at commercial law firms in the Netherlands aimed at strengthening the connection between law students from bi-cultural backgrounds and employers in the legal sector.
The person behind the professional
Our firm is home to the brightest legal minds and highly ambitious business professionals. They are our most valuable assets. We invest in the development of entrepreneurial and leadership skills of our legal and business talent in order to serve our clients to the best of our abilities. This includes offering a wide range of webinars and other training sessions for everyone at NautaDutilh that address the challenges in various stages of life, from young parenthood to menopause and from mindfulness to energy management. We believe that such programmes in combination with intervision groups increase the power of our collective.
In 2022, we started to see the results of our talent development programme (TOP) for partners which we initiated in 2021. An increasing number of partners participated in the programme, and this helps to create a new leadership language within the firm. As part of the programme, participants are taught to talk about their own background and beliefs, to experience and learn to appreciate the differences between them.
During the three-day masterclass organised by our Recruitment team for Dutch law students, the most important annual recruitment event for our firm in the Netherlands, we focus on ensuring that we welcome a more diverse group of participants. During the masterclass, the participants work in teams, and experience first-hand that diverse teams deliver more creative and better solutions.
Next stage of inclusion
Our main I&D focus for 2023 is on investing more in cultural diversity. This includes raising awareness on cultural sensitivities and differences. A baseline measurement regarding our workforce diversity will help us gain insight in how to realise our I&D ambitions. We are therefore working on a suitable method of collecting I&D data (based on multiple diversity factors through an intersectional lens). In addition, we will also continue to support the queer community and look into neurodiversity topics.