Workplace Leaders
Norton Rose Fulbright
Chief People Officer

Kate Evans

Building a truly inclusive company culture can be a challenging prospect, but all the more so when talking about a global business with locations in many different countries, each with its own laws and cultural norms. One of the best places to start, however, is to look at these various places’ commonalities rather than their differences to get a sense of where the business’s values and the various countries’ overlap. Self-reflection (both personal and as a business) is also key in ensuring as you build and grow that, you’re maintaining your principles and best practices.

GoodCourse’s Chris Mansfield spoke to Kate Evans, Chief People Officer (CPO) for Europe, Middle East, and Asia at Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF), a global full-service law firm spanning over 50 offices across North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, about how to build inclusion into a company that encompasses many different cultures.

Kate’s Journey

Chris: What led you to people leadership and your current role?

It started during my time at Deloitte Consulting, where I had a great opportunity to work on some people consulting projects as well as Human Resources (HR). That’s when I realised the proper value that HR could deliver together with and for a business. I was involved first-hand in creating some of the strategies that brought attrition down significantly, drove up people engagement, and had a strong impact on the firm’s performance. I also got involved in training, coaching, and developing others. I took this a step further when I moved on to work at KPMG. I was able to watch people’s careers evolve, and it gave me a real sense of purpose. That’s when I felt, ‘This is the space I want to stay in—people and culture—and actually grow my own career’.

Chris: You’re responsible for a large international region. How do you adapt your company culture initiatives so they’re relevant to people in so many different countries?

It’s something I’m passionate about due to the privilege of actually living and working on the ground in eight different countries across Europe over the last 30 years, better understanding local business strategies and how that marries up with regional and global. You have to understand and respect different local cultures, and I also shift the agenda back up to looking at our company culture more broadly. Whilst I’ve been at NRF—which is less than a year now—I kicked off a new program to uncover what our culture is all about. We examined what’s great at NRF across the region and what we want to retain and what behaviours we need to dial up or down. I listened to all our people and what surprised me was how similar the feedback was on culture no matter what country our people came from or currently live in. It’s important to start with that as a basis and understand what is common and build off that.

Chris: What initiatives have you been working on to help advance a sense of inclusion and belonging in the workplace?

You need to start from the bigger picture, so we’re really focused on building inclusive leadership and baking inclusion into our processes. We’re actually doing a review right now to ensure they’re still leading and cutting-edge, and making sure more broadly that we continue to listen to our people. And some of that learning we gain will go into our more formal learning. We’re committed to being a responsible business so it’s crucial for us to positively impact workplace culture not just within NRF but more broadly. We want to develop and line up our culture to wider, sustainable goals.

In 2021, we launched a solicitor apprenticeship program. Apprentices work for six years, with the opportunity to gain diverse legal experience and build strong relationships before they qualify as a solicitor. We also have an insights program where members of our race and ethnicity network, Origins, have been paired with members of our management committee and other senior partners, engaged in co-mentoring relationships spanning nine months. They’re encouraged to meet once a month, and depending on where the Origins member was in their career, they focused on what they needed. So this is to me how you truly build inclusive leadership. And we’re not just looking at these lenses. We’re also looking at policies, processes, and everyday listening.

Chris: How do you articulate the commercial value of engaging with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) within your firm?

I’m proud to say this is not the case for NRF, but there have been many cases where firms and companies have lost work because they haven’t fielded a truly diverse team. I know from talking to a number of general counsels that they want to work with firms that are genuine about their responsible business agenda and truly care about their people. And so, the link between commercial value and ‘the right thing to do’ is easy to argue.

Chris: How do you encourage and enable your already-busy people to make time for EDI initiatives?

I start out by pointing out how much the clients value it. We’ve also introduced a number of joint mentoring initiatives with clients and this has become really popular. The clients loved it, we loved it, and we learned a lot from each other. There’s both a personal and commercial value to these kinds of relationships. We instil in our colleagues a sense that, while the focus needs to be on your client work, it’s important to also spend time thinking more broadly because that’s how you develop your leadership skills. We also give incentives such as increasing people’s bonuses based on the number of hours they’ve engaged with EDI work.

Quick-fire Question

Chris: What is your top tip on how to foster a culture of learning and growth?

I recommend regular self-reflection. I start each week by thinking about what’s the one strength I want to leverage and what’s the one area I want to work on developing. And I end each week considering what I was proud of, and what I’d like to think about doing differently. And I share that openly with the teams I lead and encourage them to do it as well. It’s about building that culture, rolling it out across the business, and remaining agile so we can change, grow, and develop ourselves.

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Chris Mansfield
Client Services
Chris is one of the Client Service leads at GoodCourse, dedicated to helping institutions better engage their audience to create a more inclusive, safer, and more successful environment. To request to be featured on the series, get in touch at

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