A DYNAMIC AND DIVERSE CULTURE

“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

DIVERSITY NETWORKS

Our diversity networks are key to bringing our global D&I strategy - Leading for Inclusion, to life across the firm. They are responsible for driving change in internal policies and practices, educating our people on inclusive practices and supporting individuals globally. While each network has specific objectives, they all share the aims of providing a sense of community, inspiring and supporting diverse talent and raising awareness of diversity within our firm.

Collaborations between networks, including with our clients allow us to explore the intersectionality of diversity, to develop a culture that is inclusive of all and for individuals from a range of backgrounds to network with each other. Our networks include:

Multiculturalism

Supports our commitment to improving cultural diversity in the firm and the sector more broadly, and hosts religious and cultural celebrations across the year.

LGBT+ (IRIS)

Drives change and education across the firm, offering a sense of community and support, particularly for those operating in countries where it can be more challenging to be open about sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gender Equity Matters (GEM)

Brings together a range of networks focussed on supporting gender diversity, including those focused specifically on Women Lawyers, Women in Business Services and Women Trainee Lawyers.

Family

Fosters a community for colleagues with a range of caring needs and hosts educational seminars on parenting topics, such as exploring mental health with children.

Ability

Supports our people with long term health conditions or disabilities, as well as those with caring responsibilities, and has specific chapters focused on topics such as Mental Health, Dyslexia and Autism.

Social Mobility (UK)

Raises awareness of socio-economic background and supports individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds to progress through storytelling campaigns, mentoring and role modelling.

Military/Veterans (UK & Australia)

Our UK Military and Australian Veterans networks raise awareness of the unique skills of those who have served in the military and are focused on striving to recruit people from a military background and influencing the firm's policies to support those who continue to serve as reservists and their families.

Recent highlights

Below are some of the ways we're working to create a diverse and inclusive culture.

  • Launched 10 Actions for Change, a global set of commitments aimed at improving the representation and experience, of Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues;
  • Launched My Story campaign to share experiences, tips and guidance for how our people are coping through the Covid-19 pandemic – across the themes of family & connections; self-care and new routines; and culture;
  • Signed the Valuable 500 pledge with commitment to improving accessibility, reviewing and promoting our adjustments policy & processes and continuing to implement our mental health strategy Thrive;
  • Re-launched our global trans and non-binary inclusion guidelines, enhanced support for individuals, teams and managers, including through 1:1 coaching;
  • Launched our Asia Multicultural Network with a video series, exploring the importance of cultural diversity and new perspectives;
  • Setting new bold and ambitious gender targets – by 1 May 2023, women will comprise 35% of partners, and partner leadership roles (women currently comprise 28% of partners and 25% of partner leadership roles – an increase of 67% since we first introduced targets in 2014); and
  • Developing our first global mental health strategy Thrive, which sets out our vision to be a place where we enable our people to work in a way that is sustainable and rewarding, where they can access support for themselves and others and openly discuss mental health without fear of stigma.

Recognition

We are proud to have been recognized for our diverse and inclusive culture and our D&I and wellbeing programmes.

  • Stonewall Top Global Employers for LGBT inclusion (2015 – 2020)
  • Legal Island Best LGBT+ Initiative & Highly Commended Best Employer Equality & Diversity (2020)
  • Asian Diversity Initiative of the Year Award (Asia Legal Awards 2020)
  • Lawyers Weekly Legal Firm of Choice (2020)
  • Australian Minds Count Award for best workplace mental health initiative (2019)
  • Top 75 UK Employer for Social Mobility (19th in 2019) in the Social Mobility Employer Index (2018-2019)
  • Financial Times Outstanding in Business Top 100 LGBT+ Executives – Justin D’Agostino (2013-2019)
  • Stonewall Global LGBT+ Community Engagement Award (2019)
  • Hong Kong LGBT+ Workplace Inclusion Index – "Gold Standard" (2019)
  • Pride in Diversity Australian Workplace Equality Index Silver Tier employer (2018)
  • 'Advancing Diversity & Inclusion in Asia' award – Community Business (2018)
  • The Times Top 50 Employers for Women (2015 - 2017)
  • Employer of Choice for Gender Equality - Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (a statutory government agency) (2016 - 2017)
  • Morgan Stanley Asia Pacific Outside Counsel Diversity Award (2017)
  • GradAustralia & The Australian Top 100 Graduate Employer, number one Legal Sector Recruiter (2015 - 2017)
  • Lawyers Weekly Employer of Choice Survey - number one “attraction firm” for potential employees (2015 - 2017)

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