At Trenches, we think of the term as one unit made up of several, highly different parts. Just as a nuclear household might have a naughty child or a protective parent, each member brings far-reaching skills to the table. Diversity is what gives us strength – welcoming a range of viewpoints to work together towards a common goal.
Pride lasts more than just a month
Diversity at Trenches spans ages, races, cultures, and sexualities – and it makes a difference 365 days a year. While we’re huge supporters of Pride Month and all it stands for, that doesn’t mean that awareness should be restricted to a 30-day calendar.
Instead, we welcome our broad, varied teams and understand their challenges as individuals. It is their lived experiences that provide expertise and new perspectives, which help our clients as much as they help us.
There’s also the science to back it up: diversity is great for business development. By hiring a diverse workforce, employers can:
- Potentially increased the GDP by up to 26%, according to McKinsey
- Appeal to larger recruitment pools, with 2 out of 3 candidates seeking diverse employers, according to Glassdoor
- Be 70% more likely to capture new markets, according to Fundera
- Make decisions twice as fast, according to eduMe
- Have 2.5 times higher cash flow per employee, according to Yahoo! Finance.
Strides we’re making for diversity and inclusion at Trenches Law
We have experienced these benefits first-hand here at the firm, but there’s always room to go further. In March 2023, founder Sharon McDermott joined the board of the Wireless Internet Service Providers’ Association. Having been a member of WISPA for seven years previously, Sharon added new, diverse viewpoints as well as her decades of legal counsel experience.
Years of experience are just as important as fresh new perspectives. That’s why we work with apprentices including Lisa Hearn, who began undertaking her official finance qualifications alongside her permanent role in February 2023. Lisa says: “The apprenticeship trainers and coaches are so supportive. Building positive relationships with colleagues and clients is critical to achieving results.”
Connectivity is the name of the game at Trenches, which is why location is no barrier to hiring. In January 2022, we took on Sonja Momchilovijk, who supports our wayleave operations all the way over in Macedonia. Sonja says: “There are so many visionary people in the Trenches Law team, who are expertly carving a successful path for the business, as a collective.”
In April 2022, we welcomed Phill Stockdale-Woodhead on board too. After 20 years at Virgin Media, Phill’s focus would be transforming our HR processes — including moving our e-learning platforms and adding key Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training. Phill is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and also champions a range of mental health causes.
Added to his game-changing progressive approach to our HR and learning, Phill also has his own stories to tell. In particular, he recalls the arduous and emotionally taxing process of adopting a sibling set of children with his husband, Peter.
After 13 years together, Phill and Peter decided they wanted to adopt children. They had already looked after cats and were ready for the next challenge! The pair went through months of anguish facing concerns like stigma for being single-sex parents.
When they began making applications through Sheffield City Council, they also came under extra scrutiny. Phill recalls one social worker who made comments about the décor in his home, while the pair also faced tough questions about how they would react to homophobic bullying.
Phill’s husband Peter, remembers bursting into tears seeing happy families at supermarkets – and also notes how the 10 other couples waiting to adopt were all heterosexual applicants. But after months of intense questioning, background checks, home eligibility audits and much more, Phill and Pete were matched with two boys.
Brett and Aiden would soon be settling into Phill and Pete’s home. The four started to bond, with Brett joking that Pete could “take his brother” as he didn’t have kids. Today, almost eight years later, Phill and Pete’s boys have grown up into upstanding young gentlemen. Phill & Pete’s influence has paid off, and the pair are keen to air their views on diversity and inclusion, while they also regularly celebrate Pride.
Phill says: “It was hard and there is no parenting manual. But we understand that every family has challenges. Adding LGBTQ+I into the mix just gives us more opportunity to build our forever-rainbow family.” Though Phill only joined the firm in 2022, he says that his children already feel like part of the Trenches family.
Diversity means more than we think
Diversity and inclusion is not simply a box-tick exercise. Likewise, it is not constrained to age, race, background, physical ability or sexuality. It is about bringing people together who have had different experiences. These life challenges can all serve as lessons that ultimately help us improve our service – looking at things from other people’s points of view.
We return to the notion of family. Each member may have a different personality, but they all share genes and their own unique upbringings. At Trenches, everybody has their own personality, work experience, social or cultural background, and life stories.
That’s why we think we cannot constrain Pride to one month a year. Pride is just one of many essential social causes that promote the invaluable gift that is diversity. Every awareness day has its place but these causes should be at the forefront of our minds 365 days a year.
From the team at Trenches: we wish you all a happy Pride Month, and encourage you to benefit from diversity in its many forms.
Keen to learn more about our diverse workforce? Discover our ‘Connecting With’ series over on the blog.