TWO years after setting up LGBT+ awareness-raising organisation The Glass Network, Drew McCusker was invited onstage at The Herald’s Law Awards of Scotland to collect the CSR Award.

It was a significant moment, he said, because it “felt like a big welcome from the legal profession”.

Two years on and the organisation, which until now has focused on promoting diversity and equality within the profession by holding a series of networking events, is starting to get serious.

It has established a charter that firms can sign up to both to show that they are committed to fostering diversity and to access guidance on how best to achieve their inclusion goals.

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“We had a huge success at the Law Awards of Scotland and that meant a lot to us,” said Mr McCusker, a solicitor at Glasgow firm Livingstone Brown.

“I love a party and I love hosting a party, but the party has got to come to an end.

“We’d made our entrance but now we need to have substance over style. We wanted to do something that promotes equality in a really substantial way.”

Most of the events held by The Glass Network have been hosted by large firms with existing corporate social responsibility (CSR) budgets, but Mr McCusker said the aim of The Glass Charter is to create something all firms can be a part of regardless of size or location.

“Most firms are high street firms and they don’t have the budget - we were interested in how we could talk to them,” he said.

“We wanted to come up with something that was free and for the whole of Scotland, and that asked what equality looks like in the legal profession.”

The charter has been built around five key principles - inclusive recruitment, local action, senior support, allied commitment and innovative intersectionality – that firms signing up use as a basis for their own diversity and equality strategy.

The Glass Network will monitor how well charter firms are performing on an annual basis, with the aim being to come up with a range of best practice guidelines that other firms can draw upon.

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“We figured out that there are five principles that we think are really important,” Mr McCusker said.

“Firms that sign up to the charter don’t have to promote all five, just two each year. They choose and they can change them each year.

“The key is that no one is going to get bashed if they are not able to do as well as another firm. You’re not going to get everyone on side by hammering them and saying they’re not doing it right.

“We’re not going to say someone is doing more equality work than someone else. It puts people off, pits them against each other and doesn’t harmonise the promotion of CSR.”

Even if a firm signed up to the charter does something that breaches the five principles it is unlikely that it will be censured, with Mr McCusker noting that the feeling on The Glass Network’s committee is that such a situation would be better dealt with via engagement.

“We’re having conversations about what happens if a firm is being transphobic or not meeting the mark,” he said.

“That’s an ongoing conversation because we’re not wanting to make enemies or chase people away. People are nervous when talking about diversity and equality and we want to help people with that.

“When firms give us their goals we’ll be able to say a firm similar to you is doing X, Y and Z; we’ll be able to share best practice with them so we can teach and grow together as a community.”

International firm CMS became the first to sign up to the charter, making the move during last month’s Edinburgh Pride event. According to Mr McCusker CMS associate Eilidh Douglas “has been such a driving force behind that”.

The Glass Network is in discussions with 10 more firms that are likely to come on board in the near future and it has also held talks with the Faculty of Advocates.

The intention is to have 50 firms from right across Scotland signed up within the next year – a target Mr McCusker is confident of meeting.

“The conversation we’ve had with firms is that we’re all on the same page here,” he said.