Learn about Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s dedication to LGBTQ+ inclusion, from achieving recognition as one of Stonewall’s Top Global Employers to fostering a supportive community through the “Halo” network.

Tell us about your accomplishments to date?

Freshfields was recognised as one of Stonewall’s Top Global Employer in the Global Workplace Equality Index in 2023. Last year was the seventh year the firm achieved this.

Our Senior Partner Georgia Dawson and Madrid Partner Raquel Florez, one of the firm’s global LGBTQ+ executive sponsors, were recognised as Involve’s Outstanding Role Models in 2023. Georgia has achieved this a total of six times and Raquel twice.

In 2021 the firm set ambitious 5-year D&I targets and commitments. We aimed to achieve 5% LGBTQ+ representation amongst global partnership. In 2023 we were pleased to have achieved this target three years ahead of schedule.

Our LGBTQ+ network “Halo” is open to all employees globally across the firm, regardless of role. Halo is one of the firm’s largest employee networks and together with the allies’ network of “Halo Champions” they create a safe and supportive community for their members.

Our LGBTQ+ inclusion is supported at the highest levels. Senior Partner Georgia Dawson is one of the early champions who took a proactive role to advocate for inclusion inside and outside of the firm, including pro bono work for the wider LGBTQ+ community. The firm also has ten global executive sponsors for LGBTQ+ inclusion who are partners or business services leads representing different regions, practices and functions, with the aim of leading as role models and influencing strategies that progress inclusion.

What are the barriers in representing many intersectional identity groups?

Each of us bring different lived experiences, strengths, and insights to our work. It is important to recognise both shared and unique experiences, and to promote discussion and build understanding. It is important for an organisation to create an inclusive culture in which differences are welcome and even celebrated rather than merely tolerated. It is for this reason that, not only do we foster inclusive culture, we also aim to build a sense of belonging. We also promote active allyship so that anyone can act as an ally or champion for others.

Do you think acceptance is improving?

The world in which we work continues to evolve and change. While progress has been made on LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, there is still much more to do around the world.

We are committed to our LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts through efforts including:

  • Annual celebration of Global Pride and marking of various LGBTQ+ awareness days through events, activities and communications. These are open to all at the firm.
  • Senior role models at the firm who are visible, they lead by example and use their networks to promote inclusion.
  • Ongoing training that normalises LGBTQ+ inclusion and encourages allyship.
  • Widespread adoption of visible symbols such as flags, lanyards, stickers by colleagues as well as Pride firm logo.
  • Adopting gender neutral language in firm documents and communications.
  • Global guidance in trans and nonbinary inclusion and on the use of pronouns.
  • Rolling out gender-neutral facilities in offices.
  • Ongoing support of our community partners through pro bono legal advice. This may be cases that help individuals who are persecuted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity or to reverse social injustices. Some of our actions have resulted in landmark human rights decisions and subsequent reform. For example,
  • Victory for transgender pension rights | Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and 
  • Jamaican LGBTQ+ rights | Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

What does been nominated in your category mean to you?

Freshfields is proud to be nominated alongside the other worthy employers who have done great work in their sectors. We are pleased that the efforts of our amazing colleagues to progress LGBTQ+ inclusion are being recognised. The recognition is a reminder that though achievements have been made, progress must continue and everyone has a part to play in sustaining these efforts. Sometimes this may mean challenging pre-existing social norms and stereotypes and we cannot achieve this without LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies working closely together.