Friday, June 21, 2024

Stop hosting work socials at pubs to include Muslim staff, law firms told

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City law firms have been urged to stop hosting work socials at the pub over fears they exclude Muslim staff.

A report by Rare, a UK graduate recruitment company specialising in diversity, said the legal profession’s “big drinking culture” is unfair to those who abstain from alcohol.

It suggested that law firms introduce more cooking, painting or pottery classes to boost team bonding, rather than hosting events centred on booze.

As part of its research, Rare interviewed 10 aspiring lawyers of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, many of whom had worked for law firms as interns.

One Muslim interviewee, named Rabia, said she felt forced to drink alcohol at legal networking events to fit in.

She said: “If you say you’re not drinking, the [response is] always: ‘No, have one’. ‘No’ never seems to be like a finite answer. There is a lot of pressure [to drink] even if you didn’t want to.”

Some complained that they weren’t seen as “fun” among their colleagues if they did not drink, and were not invited to socialise as a result.

They also recalled feeling uncomfortable at formal social events held in pubs or bars, with many choosing to miss out because of their religious beliefs. 

In particular, Muslim women wearing hijabs were found to be at greater risk of family and community disapproval if seen at bars or pubs. 

One interviewee named Hamza said: “It feels dishonourable in terms of religious beliefs going into a pub because that’s a place that we don’t really like to associate ourselves with.

“It basically creates a disconnect between us and our colleagues because they collectively will go to the pub and drink for a very long period of time and really get to know each other.”

The interns claimed alcohol-fuelled events stopped them from building the relationships needed to secure coveted training contracts, many of which come with the promise of six-figure salaries upon completion. 

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