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Diversity at Allen & Overy:
A&Out- A&Out is our global network both for staff that identify as LGBT+ and staff that want to support and promote the equality of their LGBT+ colleagues (our allies). Globally A&Out has over 100 LGBT+ members and over 700 allies. The purpose of A&Out is to encourage diversity and to offer support and networking opportunities to A&O staff. The network also focuses on contributing to the business of the firm by developing new client relationships within the LGBT+ community and strengthening existing ones. A&Out members participate in networking events with clients and other law firms and regularly host their own events.
A&O has taken on a growing number of pro bono cases on LGBT+ rights, with some significant successes in recent years.
In the UK, associate Josh Little was awarded a LawWorks Pro Bono Award for his, and the wider A&O team’s, work to help campaign for an historic amendment in Parliament to broaden the scope of the disregarding scheme for historical gay sex offences – thereby clearing convictions for thousands of deceased gay and bi men. The scheme became known as ‘Turing’s Law’ after the World War II Enigma code-breaker, Alan Turing, who committed suicide in 1954 following a conviction for gross indecency.
A&O’s team, led by partner Andrew Denny, advised LGBT+ rights organisation Stonewall on how the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 could be extended to clear a wider range of offences not covered by the original scheme, such as holding hands or kissing in public. This has also bolstered moves to introduce a similar scheme in Scotland.
A&O’s Global Women’s Network, works to ensure that we are a firm where women can achieve their potential and rise to the most senior positions. Though creating genuine equality is a challenge we face globally and the barriers vary depending on jurisdiction, there is a lot that we can learn from each other.
We know it will take time to achieve equal proportions of men and women at the top of our business, but our gender strategy is designed to provide visibility and accountability for making progress every year until we get there. We also know that barriers exist for women in the workplace whatever their role, so many of our initiatives are designed to benefit support staff as well as lawyers.
A&O recognises that it can be challenging to juggle work with parenting and caring responsibilities. Several of our offices have families’ networks that run events aimed at supporting parents and carers. The aim of the networks is to provide useful support, information and advice to all staff who are current and future parents and carers.
Race & Ethnicity@A&O
A&O BAME network group, called Race & Ethnicity @ A&O, was formed in 2018 and focuses on the needs of and issues affecting Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals at A&O. It provides networking opportunities for BAME staff, promotes professional relationships with in-house counsel and clients and offers mentoring opportunities for BAME people at all levels.
Inclusive A&O (London)
Inclusive A&O was set up as we appreciate that every trainee arrives at A&O with a different set of life experiences and we want to ensure that we are supporting diversity in our trainee population. The purpose of this network is to give trainees the opportunity to connect with those a little further ahead in their career who will provide advice and support.
Firm Quote On Diversity:
At A&O we recognise that people are different, in ways that we can see and ways that we can’t. Diversity is at the heart of our graduate recruitment strategy; we are committed to broadening access to the profession and recruiting from all diversity strands. In 2016 we implemented a contextual recruitment function into our ATS, allowing us to review applicants through an inclusive lens. Fast forward to 2018/19 and we have increased our efforts in diversity launching a brand new programme called ‘A&O Accelerate’, which was designed specifically to help students interested in a legal career from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
In 2019 we have been recognised as the number one Global Commercial law firm for socioeconomic students (Trendence) and we have the aspiration be the law firm of choice for female talent entering the profession.