‘Tiny changes can have a massive butterfly effect’: Clifford Chance's UK inclusion head on her D&I story

Nina Goswami discusses her life and career ahead of judging GLP’s first Women and Diversity in Law Awards

Nina Goswami Image courtesy of Nina Goswami

Nina Goswami, head of inclusion UK at Clifford Chance, talks about how making small incremental changes on diversity can have big impacts, in the latest in a series of interviews with the judges of Global Legal Post's inaugural Women and Diversity in Law Awards

“When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, there was an expectation from my parents’ bit of India that you would do one of three professions – medicine, engineering or law. I chose the law option. It appealed to me, as it complemented what (at that time) I really wanted to do. That was to be a journalist. I loved the idea of being a reporter. The idea of being able to tell other people’s stories and expose things so we could make a difference – that excited me. 

Studying law at university was the perfect degree because both journalists and lawyers have to learn the same skills. How to analyse, how to argue and how to evidence through research. After gaining my law degree, I worked as an investigative journalist at The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph, and my journalism story ended at the BBC as TV output editor for the News at Six and Ten. That is also where my diversity and inclusion story started. I headed the BBC’s 50:50 The Equality Project, which seeks to achieve 50% women in BBC content. My role continued to grow at the BBC, and I became its first creative diversity lead, looking at the BBC as a whole. So my diversity story is quite organic and is rooted from one place – making sure people feel their voices are being heard.

Now at Clifford Chance as its first head of inclusion for the UK, I’m able to share the best practice I've learnt with one of the world’s biggest law firms. Our internal mantra here is change the rules, change the culture, change the lived experience. And that parallels something that we came up with in 50:50, which is count, share, change. Counting to understand where you are right now. Or changing the rules by understanding where you are. Sharing with others, so that you can change the culture. And then you do the change, so you change that lived experience.

For me, I'm not going for all out change or something revolutionary, I tend to look for how we can make small incremental changes. It’s those little iterations and those tiny changes that can have a massive butterfly effect. It’s evolution not revolution. And I’m very keen that ideas come from our people because that’s how we really can together become an inclusive firm. I’m also very keen on promoting social inclusion and social mobility. Nurturing talent from lower socio-economic backgrounds, to my mind, allows us to look through a more intersectional lens. If you’re helping and supporting that group, then we’re going to see an increase in people from ethnic minority backgrounds and we're going to see an increase of disabled lawyers coming into our workforce. 

Finally, I’m very interested in how we can collaborate with other firms and see how we can work with others to create change across the sector. If we can make sure that the legal sector is more representative of society, then we’re going to see laws that are more inclusive and that’s obviously going to be better for society.”

The Women and Diversity in Law Awards is the Global Legal Post's celebration of those making the UK legal sector more diverse and inclusive. The event will take take place in London on 22 March 2023 and making a nomination could not be simpler - you can find more details here

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