Welcome to our monthly updated section featuring Q&A sessions with our regular panel of top UK law firm representatives, who'll tackle any topic to do with graduate recruitment, applications, interviews, training contracts, vacation schemes and much more. If you have a question we haven't covered, just drop us a line, or tweet us @TheLex100, and we'll keep it in mind.

Workplace diversity is an important issue in all industries, and like other industries the legal sector has much room for improvement on this issue. Encouragingly, law firms have been making a concerted effort to promote the diversity of their staff.

The legal industry has made significant progress in the last few years in making the profession more attractive and accessible to a diverse talent pool. This has included collaborating in the area of social mobility: providing work experience to those from disadvantaged backgrounds to increase aspiration and career opportunities. Similarly there are networks to bring together firms' LGBT networks, working together to promote awareness and understanding. On gender equality we are seeing more firms commit to a target for female representation within their partnerships: businesses regularly set targets for key areas of performance and it is a really positive development to see diversity being recognised as one of these.

Diversity needs to be a part of all attraction, recruitment and retention processes and policies. At Shearman we are working hard to improve diversity in a number of ways including:

An inclusive employer encourages a culture where people feel able to bring their whole self to work without fear of discrimination. Inclusion underpins our approach to unlocking all the benefits off a diverse workforce. This includes our policies, employee network groups and education.

Diverse organisations are more creative, more innovative and, ultimately, more successful. Ashurst has an instinctively inclusive culture but, like many professional service organisations, is acutely aware of the need to do more to address the lack of progress of under-represented groups, for example women.

Traditionally, law firms have been regarded as the domain of the select few, but modern firms have, for some time now, valued the benefits of a diverse workforce. A diverse workforce can benefit an employer in so many ways. It can create a firm that is able to think innovatively in respect of its own practices and service provision; it enables a firm to respond better to a client’s needs.

There is considerable research to suggest that businesses with a diverse workforce have increased productivity, creativity and also profitability. In a service industry we are nothing without our people and being able to create a fully diverse and inclusive culture where we value our people will ensure that we retain the very best people from the broadest pool which will, we believe, give us a competitive advantage. This is key to ensuring that we have a sustainable business and can achieve our vision and business ambition.