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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 raise awareness 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 teams, 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.
A&O’s 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
In 2018 A&O launched its BAME network and committee (Race & Ethnicity @ A&O). The aim of the group is to focus on the needs of, and issues affecting, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people at A&O in London. Since launching, the group has successfully implemented a number of initiatives internally to raise awareness of the network, its objectives and to demonstrate the firm’s commitment to creating a more diverse business. This has included several high profile events (including for Black History Month, Diwali and Eid), a number of internal profiles, articles and a series of focus groups to ask BAME people in the business what they want and need from the network.
Race & Ethnicity @ A&O also support the REACH mentoring programme which offers BAME colleagues and vacation scheme students the opportunity to have a mentor to encourage and support them in creating and nurturing a lasting network of contacts within the firm which will ultimately help them build a solid base for career progression.
Firm Quote On Diversity:
At A&O, Diversity and Inclusion is at the very heart of our firm and our graduate recruitment strategy. Our aims are to attract, recruit and retain the best and most diverse talent and to foster an inclusive environment that encourages our people to feel comfortable and confident being themselves in the workplace.
We understand that we still have a long way to go, however we are proud of the progress we have made so far and are hopeful that our plans for the year ahead will lead us even closer to our goal. We have come a long way since 2016, when we implemented a contextual recruitment function into our ATS which revolutionised our recruitment selection by allowing us to review applicants through an inclusive lens. We are now delivering a whole host of targeted programmes and events every year. In 2018 we launched our A&O Accelerate programme for Year 12 students from lower-socio economic backgrounds and in 2019, ran our very first A&O Inclusivity Series which continues to celebrate BAME, Gender and LGBT+ groups, bringing together our internal networks and the student population. We were also recognised as the number one Global Commercial law firm for lower-socioeconomic students (Trendence) and we aspire to be the firm of choice for all legal talent entering the profession.
This year, we’re looking forward to participating in the Black Aspiring Solicitors Scheme for our first year where we hope to welcome even more talent into the firm.