All law firms nowadays discuss their Diversity and Inclusion policies and initiatives; all marketing themselves as being the most committed to diversity. What is proven to be less common-knowledge is what the clients think.
Legal Week has interviewed 12 UK General Counsel’s from major companies, including 4 FTSE-100 institutions to see who they think is the most committed to diversity and inclusion.
It is noted however that some in-house counsel refrained completely from nominating any firm; stating that they were on the whole unimpressed by any firm in particular.
Freshfields: This firm received the most nominations. One General Counsel had said that the firm had made “extraordinary leaps and bounds” while another was impressed with the firm’s Everyday Gender Equality initiative which focuses on 10 everyday actions to improve gender equality in the workplace.
BCLP – Berwin Cave Leighton Paisner received the second highest number of nominations. The firm is committed to conducting work experience, school outreach programmes as well as sponsorship and mentoring programs. Moreover, the firm met its 2018 target of having a 30% female UK-wide partnership. Of the 2019 partner promotions, 57% were female and over 1/5th were BAME.
CMS – CMS received a couple of recommendations, with one GC stating the firm “walks the walk”. The firm has progression work allocation systems; mentoring schemes; flexible and agile working policies and mandatory diversity and inclusion training.
Eversheds – “I was very impressed with how the whole team was gelling together – you could tell they were an inclusive team,” said one GC about Eversheds. The GC added: “It’s not just about having figures you can point to on BAME etc, it’s about how the teams are collaborating.”
Slaughter and May – One GC highlighted Slaughters’ relatively good gender pay gap reports, and said its ‘best friend’ referral firms are involved with its women’s networks.
Allen & Overy – One GC said they had noticed A&O extending its diversity and inclusion focus to encompass social and academic diversity.