Diversity toolkit

Business leaders give unique perspectives on creating a diverse workforce

Diversity Toolkit Interview

Sir Nigel Knowles, Global Co-CEO

Sir Nigel Knowles

Global Co-CEO, DLA Piper

DLA Piper, the world’s leading global business law firm, has a turnover in excess of £2bn, with 4,200 lawyers located in more than 30 countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

Interview - The 7S model

Over the last two decades DLA Piper has transformed from a 90-person law firm based in Yorkshire to a leading global business law firm. Nigel, who has played a major role in the cultural transformation, has seen huge changes during this period. To be an open, diverse business he firmly believes the CEO and Board of Directors have to set the tone and take responsibility for it, otherwise it won’t succeed.

It was his training at Harvard, just before he became Managing Partner at DLA Piper, that gave him one of the most powerful tools in his diversity armoury: the McKinsey 7S Model.

  • Strategy – Work out what you want it to be.
  • Structure – Put the right one in place to deliver your strategy.
  • Systems – Develop the right systems to monitor the performance of the business.
  • Staff – Invest in the right staff.
  • Skills – Make sure your staff have the right ones, which is where diversity becomes so important.
  • Style – What does your branding convey?
  • Shared values – Identify the core values by which you live. Strategy is the starting point, and from there you work through the other six Ss. As all the Ss are interrelated you continually refine all seven as you go.

In such a large, international organisation DLA Piper encompasses many local cultures and many locations. One of the main challenges has been to create a single corporate culture which has unmoveable core values, but can still reflect the diversity of the business.

McKinsey research suggests that businesses that truly embrace diversity can be up to a third more effective, and profitable, than their less diverse counterparts.