Diverse teams are better at innovation. And in the 21st-century business model, where innovation is key to harness digital transformation, the gig economy and a barrage of other developments, organisations that promote and increase diversity are at a major advantage.

But diversity is not just about changing culture and developing new ways of working: there is evidence that equal opportunity – and equal pay – drives economic and business growth. We saw this referenced at the recent Spark21 Conference on women in the law, where Lord Chancellor David Gauke cited McKinsey’s estimate that bridging the gender gap could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025, given the evidence that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have profits above their industry average.

Few would disagree that diversity drives innovation and the attendant benefits it brings, but happily, I think we can also see that innovation drives diversity. I am fortunate, and proud, to experience this first hand at S and M, which, in line with its open minded and forward thinking culture, has always valued individuality and diversity very highly (and as an aside, I'm pleased to see the firm getting the recognition it deserves for this). It's hard to overstate the positives of an open minded and inclusive approach to recognising excellence and talent. The Lord Chancellor's recent comments point to the direct benefits for law firms and their clients, but on an individual level, a diverse and inclusive firm is a cool place to work. 

Part 2 to follow.