Law firms praised for diversity strategies

Linklaters and Slaughter and May have been recognised for their efforts in promoting LGBT support and their wider diversity strategies.

Both have a member of staff in the top 20 of OUTstanding's Allies List, which offers a rundown of global leaders who are playing a key role in driving the LGBT in the workplace agenda forward.

Linklaters' employment partner Nicola Roberts is in eighth place and she was noted for her ability to sign up the firm's chairman, CFO and various other senior partners to the allies programme.

Chris Saul, a senior partner at Slaughter and May, is in 16th place and he has been recognised for taking part in various LGBT initiatives with organisations such as InterLaw and Stonewall. Mr Saul has also grown his firm's own LGBT Network by a third in 12 months.

OUTstanding is a diversity networking organisation that seeks to push forward the issue of LGBT. The need for progress in this area is obvious, as research by Human Rights campaign has found 62 per cent of Generation Y LGBT graduates hide their sexuality when they start their first job.

However, positive progress is certainly being made in the legal world - indeed, lawyers make up 15 per cent of the top 100 LGBT business leaders.

Promoting an equality agenda

Linklaters has a long-standing commitment to promoting equality in the workplace. Last month, it became the first organisation to successfully achieve certification against the UK National Equality Standard (NES).

This groundbreaking initiative has been developed by businesses for businesses, and sets out clear equality, diversity and inclusion standards. In order to be awarded NES, the law firm was assessed on 70 competency areas across seven categories.

"The success of any business - founded on the quality of its people - rests in attracting, retaining and developing the best talent from the widest possible pool and is the reason why greater diversity is one of Linklaters' global priorities," said Simon Davies, firmwide managing partner at Linklaters.

He insisted the firm will not be standing still over the issue of equality either, as he thinks improvements can always be made to promote further diversity.

Gender equality

Slaughter and May has also received praise for its efforts around gender diversity. Recent figures show that 20 per cent of partner roles are now held by females, while women also make up 46.6 per cent of trainees.

Despite these positive numbers, the firm is refusing to set specific targets for female partnership, instead preferring to focus on improving the talent pipeline.

Slaughters also recently introduced a new working from home pilot initiative in an effort to boost diversity, which is designed to offer people the chance to carry out their duties from home one day a fortnight. It will be trialled for at least six months before feedback is taken.

Litigator Ewan Brown is running the scheme and he told The Lawyer that Linklaters is aware "flexi-working is something that people are increasingly interested in". Because of this, the firm is looking for a system that "maintains the same standard of experience and service for our clients".

Both of these law firms should be applauded for putting the issue of diversity at the heart of their future strategy.