Lauren Diamondis, Senior HR Business Partner
As one of the first five team members for the Belfast centre, I’m proud to call myself a "Belfast Original."
However, despite being one of the “Belfast Originals," I’m actually from South Africa but have spent the last 14 years in the UK and the last 11 in Belfast. I love it here and have made this city my home.
Belfast is a unique city with some of the best people in the world and I genuinely love the people I work with.
From my very first day at Baker McKenzie, I felt the warmth and friendliness from everyone I met, including the most senior members of the Firm. There is a real culture of friendship here and that makes all the difference.
It reflects a kindness that is intrinsic to the Baker McKenzie culture – so it wasn’t surprising that this word was echoed back to us when we asked our people how they would describe life at Baker McKenzie.
For us, ‘kindness’ isn’t just about what work we do in the community or the fundraising activities our charity committee organises. It’s how we treat each other in our daily interactions and how we as a company support our people.
There’s a huge focus on inclusion, diversity and equity here at Baker McKenzie and those are really important to me personally. I lead the Gender stream of the Inclusion and Diversity committee in Belfast, and we have implemented some fantastic initiatives over the years, the most recent being BakerEnrich, our centre-wide mentoring programme.
Because we are a large global Firm, we recognise that we have lower representation of people who identify with certain protected characteristics. BakerEnrich aims to provide a personal mentoring experience which enhances the careers of our colleagues, understanding that some, including women, women of colour and ethnic minority groups may previously have had less access to development programmes and will find the experience particularly beneficial.
Research has shown that mentoring programmes like BakerEnrich have a positive impact on reducing bias and help to increase diversity at all levels across a business, but particularly at leadership level.
I am so proud of what we have achieved with BakerEnrich, it’s a programme that we developed and championed here in the Belfast Centre, and it was rolled out to all of our centres.
But even more encouraging is the feedback I’ve received personally from participants in BakerEnrich and seeing some of the first cohort flourish in their careers.
One of our mentees on the programme was encouraged to apply for a new opportunity in an entirely different part of the business. If it wasn't for his mentoring relationship through the BakerEnrich programme, it's likely that he would never have put himself forward for this opportunity which has changed the direction of his career.
I have personally been very lucky in my career in that I have had a Director who has pushed me to take new opportunities and challenge myself. This has given me the confidence to put myself forward for opportunities that have raised my profile in our organisation and enhanced my work experience. However, I know that not everyone is as lucky as I have been, so a programme like BakerEnrich will be enormously helpful as it gives you access to a mentor who can help raise your profile and give you guidance, build your confidence, push you to challenge yourself and develop your skillset.
I like to think I’ve had a small part of to play in making Baker McKenzie Belfast what it is today. Back in those early days, as we were building everything from the ground up, I was the only team member within HR. It’s incredible to think of how much we have achieved as a team of now over 400 professionals!