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Global Diversity and Inclusion Policy


Diversity and inclusion is a key area through which we can create competitive advantage for our business. Our vision is to be a market leader in this area

Enabling our vision

Being one of the world’s leading law firms relies on us having a diverse and inclusive culture made up of high performing teams and individuals. Diversity and inclusion is a key area through which we can create competitive advantage for our business. Our vision is to be a market leader in this area.

Supporting our strategy

Our diversity and inclusion strategy supports the business strategy of the firm in the following four areas:

  • Talent – to attract and retain top talent from diverse talent pools and enable people to perform to their full potential.
  • Clients – to engage with our clients via our diversity and inclusion programmes and be best placed to serve the needs of a diverse client base.
  • Innovation – to create greater innovation for our clients and our business through inclusion of different and diverse perspectives.
  • Values – to enable all our people to connect, collaborate, excel and lead to create a global one-firm culture.

The business case for diversity and inclusion is compelling. The body of evidence is that diverse teams out perform those that are not. Inclusion is key in order to harness the value of diversity and innovate for our clients, as well as meeting the needs of global clients.

Our approach to diversity and inclusion

We take a global approach to diversity and inclusion as appropriate but are responsive to local markets and act within the prevailing legislative framework. Our vision and strategy is underpinned by the fundamental principle of treating people with respect. The firm is committed to providing a safe workplace free of any form of bullying, harassment and discrimination as set out in our Dignity at Work and Workplace Behaviour Policies.


Diversity refers to the variety of our people, including identity characteristics of gender and gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age and generation, religion and belief, national cultures, socioeconomic background, veteran status, family and marital and civil partnership status. Diversity also refers to the differing perspectives contributed by each individual.

Inclusiveness refers to an environment where we optimise these diverse perspectives to achieve better results for our business; where people feel valued and able to bring their whole selves to the workplace in a way that is authentic for the individual and respects the boundary between our personal and professional lives. It is through people being themselves that they can achieve their full potential. It is through our people performing at their best that the firm can achieve greater results.

Inclusive leadership is how we as individuals contribute to creating an inclusive culture through our everyday behaviours so that people feel valued. Different perspectives matter and people are encouraged to achieve their full potential and feel part of the Herbert Smith Freehills community.


This policy applies to all Partners and employees globally, as well as our relationships with clients, suppliers and other partner organisations with which we work. As part of our commitment to inclusive leadership, all Partners and Business Services Leaders are responsible for upholding the principles of this policy. All employees are required to support and promote the principles of this policy.

Global priorities

Within our broad commitment to diversity and inclusion (across strands) and the programmes to support them, the firm has set 3 global priorities to be a consistent focus firm-wide:

  1. Gender - to increase the representation of women in the global partnership and in partner leadership roles to 30% by 2019 with an interim target of 25% by 2017. We have a number of measures in place to support the achievement of the targets, with a particular focus on sustaining the talent pipeline and supporting career transitions.
  2. Multiculturalism - to enhance the multicultural demographic diversity of our people at all levels of the business and also develop our cultural competence to understand clients’ needs in order to operate successfully in global markets.
  3. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion – to build on our strengths in this area, with a particular focus on developing our LGBT networks globally, all staff engagement and addressing diversity within the L, G, B and T populations.

Each of our priority areas is supported by a one-firm approach strategy which sets out a high level summary of the programmes being delivered to support the strategy. In addition, our networks and D&I committees lead programmes to address the objectives and priorities of other strands of diversity under the direction of Regional D&I Groups reporting to the GDIG.

Structure and leadership

Strategically, our work is led by the Global Diversity and Inclusion Group (GDIG) chaired by our co CEO and comprising the two Global Diversity Partners, senior Partners and Business Services Leaders for each of our 4 regions. The GDIG advises the Global Executive and Global Council on all matters relating to our diversity and inclusion strategy.

At a regional level, the Global Diversity Partners chair the Regional Diversity and Inclusion Groups (West – UK/US and EMEA; and East – Asia-Pacific). These are comprised of Regional Managing Partners and other leaders and are tasked with implementing the global diversity and inclusion strategies in their regions, taking into account local needs in the design and delivery of high quality diversity and inclusion programmes.

Within this structure, other people lead our various affinity networks and D&I committees. Our affinity networks include women lawyers, women trainee lawyers, women in business services, LGBT and allies, multiculturalism, HSF Ability and family. Our networks and D&I committees contribute to the overall development of our programmes, including the wider consultation and engagement of our people.

Key commitments

In order to be a market leader in diversity and inclusion, we are committed to:

  • Addressing systemic and individual unconscious biases in order to create a diverse and inclusive culture, including the delivery of inclusive leadership development programmes and the review of our processes to reduce the potential for unconscious bias in decision making.
  • Demonstrating visible senior leadership on diversity and inclusion and increasing the visibility of and access to diverse role models. Partners, other fee earners and business services professionals lead our diversity and inclusion programmes and are critical to their success.
  • Engaging with our people in the development and implementation of the diversity and inclusion programmes via our affinity networks and D&I committees.
  • Engaging with our clients, including partnering with clients and community organisations on diversity and inclusion initiatives and being best placed to add value to client expectations on diversity and inclusion.
  • Making continuous progress over time and evaluating this via monitoring and reporting on relevant data and processes, and establishing measurable objectives such as key performance indicators, benchmarking against best practice and undertaking research and analysis. This includes reviewing our global engagement survey and diversity audits and reporting to our people on the results of these reviews.
  • Integrating diversity and inclusion considerations and content into our business processes and practices with particular focus on people and talent management, client relations and business development, communications and supplier diversity.