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100 years moving forward


‘I did self-select out of certain career paths. But joining a mentoring scheme convinced me I could progress’

Arian’s story

I come from a single-parent household. My family has a background in farming - I’m the first one to continue to higher education.

University wasn’t an option for my mum. It would have been financially burdensome and she didn’t necessarily have the qualifications.

When I first got here, I did self-select out of certain career paths. I felt the world of commercial law was inaccessible to someone like me. What changed my mind was participating in a mentoring scheme - it convinced me that if I had the right skills and qualifications, there was no reason why wouldn’t progress.

I’m motivated to do well because I’ve come from a situation where I know what will happen if I don’t work hard. There’s definitely an element of wanting to make my family proud. But ultimately, I want to ensure that I’m the best I can be – I don’t want to sell myself short.

Diverse workplaces do a lot better, both in terms of growth and revenue. The research speaks for itself. But, in a way, I don’t think you should have to justify why organisations should be diverse.  I think in the society we live in today, you really shouldn’t have to struggle to be able to access the profession you want to be in.

I’ve sometimes felt like I’ve been at a bit of a boys’ club at career networking events. This is something organisations can combat by ensuring they include open discussions that everyone can get involved in. And organisations need to make a conscious effort to promote their diverse employees. Even if it is not a 50:50 split at the top, it’s essential to show people they can rise up the ranks.

If I had to offer one piece of advice to someone wanting to enter the world of business, I think it would be to find a mentor. You don’t have to go through formal channels, you can meet people willing to offer guidance on LinkedIn. Having a mentor has given me a lot more confidence.

If I had a message for business it would be to look at all sources of talent. Don’t just go to  the same group of universities. Give everyone an equal chance. And don’t stop after people have been hired. Make sure there are strategies in place to stop diverse candidates leaving after a few years.

Arian is studying law at university. She took part in the Freshfields vacation scheme as well as a mentoring scheme run in collaboration with Aspiring Solicitors, an organisation that aims to increase diversity in the legal profession.