Big Inclusion 4 – Oliver Holmes

In this edition of the Big Inclusion 4 we had the privilege of speaking to Oliver Holmes the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Browne Jacobson. Oliver is a brilliant D&I Lead and is spearheading substantive change at the top law firm that has just been ranked number 1 in the Social Mobility Index 2023 for the fourth year running, here’s what Oliver had to say;

1. What do you think is the biggest challenge organisations are facing when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion right now? 

Not making the right investment in D&I and failing to listen & meet the expectations of their employees. Having a diverse workforce fosters innovation, creativity, helps support complex problem solving and enables organisations to provide better solutions to their customers. To unlock the power of having a diverse workforce – and the benefits that brings – you need to create a culture of inclusion and psychological safely. To do that properly, in a meaningful and sustainable way, you need to invest in dedicated resource to help build that culture through D&I programmes, awareness training, events, line manager upskilling and working with HR to ensure D&I is embedded into every section of the employee lifecycle. This simply cannot be led efficiently by somebody “side of desk”. Make the investment – I promise it will be worth the reward.


2. Why do you think diversity, equity and inclusion are important? 

I’m hoping that most people who read this know why equality of opportunity should be non-negotiable. We all have a responsibility to each other to build a kinder, fairer world where everyone has the opportunity to be the best versions of themselves. To do that we must focus on where there are inequities – in society, in our places of work, in the systems and institutions we grow up in and our own communities.


3. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to make the right change in their organisation right now? 

Know you’re not alone. There are so many people out there facing barriers to making the right changes in their organisations. My advice would be to try and find a senior sponsor to help influence and champion the changes you’re wanting to make. They could be a great source of support. Also, there are some fantastic organisations out there that can help you – like Mahogany Inclusion Partners as we well as some brilliant networks that connect you with some wonderful people – all of whom will be at different stages of their journey with D&I.

4. What do you love about what you do? 

Simply put, the people. Diversity at its best is working collaboratively and enjoying & appreciating everyone’s difference and uniqueness. It really does take a village and no single person can do this by themselves. I am lucky enough to work with some spectacular people who challenge, encourage and inspire me. Similar to many jobs there can be frustrations, but I realise what an incredible privilege it is to have a role like this and contribute to building a fairer world.