“At Herbert Smith Freehills, we don’t expect our people to be or think the same – indeed, diversity and inclusion drive our success and the innovative solutions we deliver with our clients. That’s why fostering an inclusive culture where our people can be themselves, contribute their perspectives and perform roles which are meaningful and aligned to our shared values is a core business priority”.
– Justin D’Agostino, CEO
A truly global law firm is built on a diverse culture, reflective of the societies in which we live and work. That’s why inclusivity is key to our success. Here, you’ll be part of an open working environment where you’ll be valued for what makes you different and accepted for who you are. We recognise the power of diversity and inclusion to drive innovation, collaboration and business outcomes. By enabling you to be your unique selves every day - we are Leading for Inclusion.
Our diversity networks connect employees across the firm. They are the vibrant core of our culture, creating an inclusive atmosphere, and performing an influential, educational role through innovative events and initiatives.
Our Ability Network is focused on supporting our people with long-term health conditions or disabilities, as well as those with caring responsibilities, and has specific groups focused on topics such as Mental Health, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia and Autism.
We’ve teamed up with PurpleSpace to build disability confidence within the firm and beyond by offering a networking and professional development hub for individuals within our Ability group. We recently hosted a 'Recruitment Roundtable' with Autism Forward, focused on helping autistic people ﬁnd paid or voluntary employment and reach their full potential.
Our Ability Network works closely with MyPlus Consulting to shape our workplace adjustments and to ensure that everyone is supported in their role if they’re affected by a physical or mental disability. We hold events for students with a disability through events with MyPlus and a mentoring programme with Aspiring Solicitors, where we explain the importance of disclosing a disability in our application form and how you can use your disability to evidence your adaptability and resilience in the recruitment process. We also hold these events to explain the adjustments we can make to the assessment process to ensure everyone has equal access to our firm and to build confidence in talented students with a disability. We have made a commitment to the Valuable 500 to continue to prioritise global disability inclusion.
To find out about the support we provide to students with disabilities and long term health conditions during the application and recruitment process, and within the workplace, please view our profile on MyPlus Students’ Club - Herbert Smith Freehills
Our MyPlus Students’ Club Open Day is for high-performing students with a disability or long-term health condition* who are interested in a career in commercial law. You’ll meet lawyers from across the firm who will give you an insight into what it’s like to work at HSF with a disability, the support we provide and the exciting work we do here.
*Disability includes but is not limited to conditions such as: visual and hearing impairments, mobility impairments, Asperger’s Syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, dyslexia, dyspraxia, mental health conditions, speech impairments and major illnesses such as cancer and MS.
MYPLUS STUDENTS’ CLUB OPEN DAY
18 October 2022
1 September-5 October 2022
Our Multiculturalism Network (MCN) supports our commitment to driving ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in the firm and the legal sector more broadly. The network supports a number of initiatives throughout the year, as well as hosting religious and cultural celebrations, which in the past have included Africa Day, Lunar New Year, Ramadan and Black History Month.
In London, the network also supports the recruitment and retention of individuals from diverse backgrounds. The network provides a forum for regular and constructive dialogue – for example, facilitating discussion groups around race and structural racism. The network has also contributed to NOTICED's pioneering "Best Practices Report", established its own reverse mentoring scheme and informed the firm's 10 Actions for Change to improve the representation and experience of Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues. Herbert Smith Freehills’ Regional Executives are responsible for ensuring these new commitments are acted upon across the firm’s offices. Each Action is backed by a plan and interpreted locally and regionally to reflect local challenges, cultures and nuances. You can read more about our 10 Actions for Change here.
Alongside the work of the MCN, we’re also very proud to be one of the founding members of the Race Fairness Commitment. We’re dedicated to following concrete steps and a data-driven approach that will help drive real change in the ethnic diversity of the firm.
We offer mentoring programmes for future joiners and trainees from ethnic minority backgrounds, and we’ve expanded on our relationship with Aspiring Solicitors to launch an industry-first mentoring scheme specifically for black students interested in a career in law. Our BAME Trainee Committee is focused on supporting the recruitment of diverse graduates and helping to create a more inclusive workplace. The Committee plan a range of events, including an annual ‘Multiculturalism in the City’ panel and launched a peer mentoring initiative. It also created a publication; "Reflections of a Community"; launched during Black History Month 2020 to showcase and celebrate the thoughts, experiences and experiences of the Black community, from both within the firm and externally.
We partner with Rare Recruitment who offer an introductory programme for students from ethnic minority backgrounds, to the world of commercial law through ‘Articles’ and ‘Rare Foundations’. We’re a sponsor of Bright Network’s Black Talent in Law event and outside of the UK, we offer penultimate-year law undergraduates studying at university in India the opportunity to join our summer vacation schemes.
Our Roger Leyland Memorial Scholarship (in memory of Roger Leyland, the first black partner at the firm) also provides exceptional black and minority ethnic students with a high level of financial support throughout their university studies, as well as work experience.
If you’re a first-year student from an ethnic minority background, find out more about how you can apply to our Roger Leyland scholarship here.
Gender equality matters
Our global Gender Equity Matters (GEM) Network brings together a number of local networks and chapters all designed to promote gender equity. In London, our GEM trainee network offers networking opportunities, learning and development sessions and has recently launched a podcast series discussing a range of topics from 'Breaking Barriers' to 'Tech and the Legal Profession'.
The network has also recently hosted a series of events including a client evening with booker prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other.
Since 2014 when we first set our gender targets, we have 67% more female partners across our global network, bringing the percentage of our women partners to 28%. The percentage of women partners in leadership roles is 25%.
However, we are firmly focused on increasing gender balance in our partner leadership roles and this is reflected in new targets announced on 1 May 2019, which is to have women comprising 35% of partners and partner leadership roles by 1 May 2023.
We have a longstanding and market-leading commitment to LGBT+ inclusion. We’re a Stonewall Top Global Employer and our Inclusion, Respecting Identity and Sexuality (IRIS) Network is involved in a range of advocacy initiatives in support of LGBT+ rights across the world. The network aims to connect LGBT+ people and allies across the firm and is designed to create a safe and supportive space for everyone, regardless of where they are located. Recently, the network has created and led Ally training to educate and inform all staff about LGBT+ issues, it has held events on Trans inclusion, Bi-visibility and intersectional issues related to race, neurodiversity and more. IRIS recently launched a global Who We Are campaign, highlighting our people's journeys as members of the LGBT+ community or allies.
According to research, as many as 50% of LGBT+ people in the UK don’t disclose their sexuality or gender identity in their first job – and we want to change that. Our IRIS Open Day is your opportunity to find out more about a career in law at the firm and discover a culture where you can feel supported in being open about who you are. You’ll hear about the firm, the work we do and our LGBT+ initiatives, as well as meet trainees and associates who are part of our IRIS Network.
This opportunity is open to all disciplines and students in any year, as well as graduates.
LGBT+ OPEN DAY
27 October 2022
1 September-5 October 2022
Listen to Scott Warin, an associate at Herbert Smith Freehills, as he talks us through a case he had on the criminalisation of adult consensual same-sex activity:
The Family Network exists to support all those with caring responsibilities in its widest sense – from parents, grandparents, guardians to carers of children or others. The network aims to provide awareness and education surrounding some of the common challenges faced by those with caring responsibilities, such as: work/life balance, mental health and families, and, where appropriate, works to bring employee's concerns to the attention of the firm's policymakers.
The network has most recently provided seminars on topics including; engaging Dads, social media, raising resilient children, supporting carers of older people and spotlighting topics such as Alzheimer's. Future topics include bereavement; fertility; and blended or separated families. Additionally, they support parents who have recently taken or returned from parental leave, with sessions to come together to meet each other and learn from others in the firm who have developed their careers alongside raising families. Employees at HSF also have access to a number of platforms including Circle-in, a bespoke platform for HSF, which features a wealth of useful resources and tools to support working families of all shapes and sizes.
We’re committed to improving access to the legal profession for all, including those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We’re proud to be ranked third in the top 75 UK employers by the Social Mobility Employer Index 2021.
Through both our sponsorship of the Rare Discuss programme and partnership with Rare Vantage, we’re connecting with students from lower socio-economic backgrounds interested in commercial law. We use a contextual data system to allow us to understand the context in which a candidate has gained experience, so we don't miss out on recruiting talented individuals.
We also collaborate with the Social Mobility Foundation and Aspiring Solicitors to increase diversity throughout the legal profession through mentoring, coaching, workshops and application advice to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We are founding member of PRIME, an alliance of UK law firms that aims to improve young people’s access to the legal sector and have dedicated social mobility partners and an established Social Mobility Network. Our Social Mobility Network is focused on supporting individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds to progress through the firm and promoting diverse and visible role models. Most recently our network led a campaign to share stories of their social background with the wider firm, one way they have supported in raising awareness of the diversity of social backgrounds across our workforce, and building a more inclusive environment for everyone.
Find out more by applying to our Social Mobility Foundation open day.
SOCIAL MOBILITY OPEN DAY:
22 September 2022
10 August - 8 September
Our UK Military Network raises awareness of the unique skills of those who have served in the military, supporting the recruitment of people from a military background and influencing the firm's policies to support those who continue to serve as reservists and their families.
We’re proud to be recognised by the Ministry of Defence with the Gold Award in the 2021 Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. This award was granted in recognition of our outstanding support of the UK’s armed forces and acknowledges the support we provide for defence personnel and their families.
The network teams up with the Australian offices' similar network and are part of the wider social recognition of the contribution of our military during their service and the need to support and pay back that service; teamed with a recognition of the benefits that military training, skills and attitudes can bring to civilian employers.
All are welcome; whilst some in this network have military experience directly or via family and friends, this is not a prerequisite.
Mental Health Steering Committee
Our Mental Health Champions network plays a critical role in raising awareness of mental health, championing wider initiatives across the firm, and supporting a culture of inclusion and openness around mental health. The network also lies at the heart of achieving our global mental health strategy – Thrive.
Our Mental Health Champions network is made up of over 500 Champions across all HSF offices. Our Champions have all received mental health training with an external consultant and are not counsellors but everyday people who have an interest in providing a safe and trusting space for colleagues to have confidential mental health conversations, and are trained to effectively sign-post individuals to relevant support and resources. Our Champions also lead by example by proactively looking after their own mental wellbeing and help teams to spot early indicators of poor mental health or unsustainable ways of working.
Alongside providing specific support to people at HSF who are impacted by mental health, the network also supports and organises various mental wellbeing events and initiatives. Recently we have held webinars on a variety of topics including the neuroscience behind mental health, menopause and its impact on mental health, and building resilience. The network have also shared a 'This is Me' video story series which features colleagues from across our business sharing their experiences of mental health and wellbeing.
All employees at HSF also have access to our Employee Assistance Programme which offers free and confidential counselling and emotional support, 24/7.