International law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has been named one of the top UK employers for LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) staff in the annual Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (WEI). The firm ranked 66th out of 369 firms taking part. The leading UK diversity benchmark, the Index specifically looks at how inclusive organisations are with respect to LGB diversity.
The Stonewall WEI scores firms based on a range of criteria including policy and practice, employee engagement, staff development and training and LGB community engagement.
Andrew Austin, a partner sponsor for the firm’s LGBT network ‘Halo’, commented: “The Stonewall Workplace Equality Index is widely recognised as being the benchmark for judging organisations’ progress on creating an LGB-friendly workplace. I am incredibly proud that Freshfields has broken into the Top 100. It is a brilliant achievement that recognises the hard work and commitment we have seen from across the firm to ensure that we offer a truly inclusive place to work.
Key developments in the past year at Freshfields have included the further development of the Halo network – which now has over 100 members from 15 offices. The firm also hosted its first ever LGBT conference which brought together LGBT colleagues from across the firm’s network. Anti-bullying champion Ben Cohen visited the firm for a Q&A evening, the firm supported London’s bid to host the 2018 Gay Games and Freshfields continued to work with Diversity Role Models, a charity that works to eliminate homophobic bullying in schools.
Will Lawes, senior partner, commented ‘It is a key strategic priority for the firm that we provide a welcoming, rewarding, and inclusive environment in which to work for people from all backgrounds. We have invested a lot of time and effort developing programmes and networks that help ensure we meet that objective for our LGBT staff. I am extremely proud of my colleagues who have worked so hard to achieve our ranking and look forward to seeing our LGBT network grow from strength to strength.’
Stonewall’s Head of Workplace Simon Feeke said: ‘Being recognised as one of the top 100 gay-friendly employers is a significant achievement for any organisation and I congratulate Freshfields for this fantastic result. At Stonewall we know that people perform better when they can be themselves – but it can often be daunting for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff to be themselves at work. Freshfields’ initiatives are a great example of the steps firms can take to make sure that every single member of staff can perform at their best – regardless of their sexual orientation.’