Creating an environment where employees can enjoy a work-life balance, work flexibly, and be comfortable in sharing concerns is crucial for organisations to be successful. When employees can bring their true selves to work and rely on their colleagues, in a workplace where the firm is supportive, everyone thrives.
Carolyn Morgan, HR Director of Hill Dickinson, knows how important this work is. She sat down with Chris Mansfield, Co-founder of GoodCourse, to discuss her career in people leadership, the initiatives she is most proud of, and the things that set Hill Dickinson apart.
I have been with Hill Dickinson now for almost three years. I joined in the midst of Covid in 2020. Hill Dickinson is a leading global law firm with over 950 people, including over 200 partners and legal directors. My background is legal; I spent eighteen years at my previous firm. My role here is generalist HR, recruitment, reward, learning and development. Diversity and inclusion sit within my remit. It’s great being involved in so many things, and what we’re doing has such a positive impact on our firm. I sit on the executive board and give monthly updates; it’s incredible to see how invested the firm is in HR.
I have always been a people person and enjoy working with them. When I was at university, my parents always told me I’d be suited to HR, and obviously, they were right! As I have progressed throughout my career, the thing that has kept me in people leadership has been the ability to be involved with strategic change which fundamentally has a positive impact on the business, through supporting our people but also for business growth as well. One thing that I love at Hill Dickinson is that our people strategy is at the heart of everything we do. I know many firms will talk about their cultures being great, but in ours, it’s a reality.
I think one of the biggest changes I have seen in the past couple of years has been concerning people engagement. Listening to a lot more to what people are looking for has been a real shift during my career and a positive progression. Some of the things that we’ve been doing here are we have opened up a discussion around some very sensitive subjects.
Each month, we have a lunch and learn where we have a subject matter expert as well as people from the firm talking about their own experiences. It could be on baby loss, neurodiversity, or mental health struggles. Our people have been so brave in discussing their experiences. The feedback that we have had from our people has been absolutely amazing. Taking the step to be brave and discuss things we didn't previously talk about and knowing that every firm’s success is due to its people.
We actually do it as a Teams session, so it’s all virtual. We have people from all around the globe involved — it’s people from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Monaco. People are involved as speakers and as listeners. All of them are recorded, so if someone has missed anything, they can slot in whenever they want. This also helps with accessibility for everyone.
First of all, flexible working has always been at the forefront of Hill Dickinson’s strategy. As we navigated through Covid and after, we were awarded the best firm for flexible working, which we were delighted about. We were also awarded for being the best firm for flexible recruitment too.
We had been working on our returners campaign to attract talent back into the law. So from an inclusive and flexible perspective, it has been a great initiative that we have seen brilliant success from.
The Lunch and Learn programme has been great in opening conversations. We have done a great amount of work on mental health, so we have done various talks and support pieces around resilience. We have also made something called Leafyard, which is a subscription-based app funded by our firm that helps people get mental health support. We’re also a signatory of the mindful business charter and have aligned those principles to the values of our firm. So, trust, collaboration, innovation, and respect. This has helped us embed the meaning of the mindful business charter. Our networking groups also mirror the strands of our diversity and inclusion strategy.
One thing that is a differentiator for Hill Dickinson is that our chargeable hour targets are less than other firms. Flexibility and having a work-life balance are important to our organisation, so we incorporate time allowing our employees to devote themselves to their development or be involved in wider firm initiatives. This fosters a more complete sense of belonging.
I think it’s the appreciation of knowing that having a diverse and inclusive workplace makes everyone, regardless of what they do for the business, feel part of the journey the firm is on. People feel supported in all areas, and diversity is important for a higher retention rate, the firm’s growth, and the ability to attract diverse talent. We also see the importance of social value and EDI mirrored in our clients.
It’s having a clear strategy and development programme. Opening up opportunities and conversations. We have created development programmes for all our people to support them to be the best they can be in their career.