Magic circle firm Clifford Chance is hoping to recruit ‘allies’ as part of an initiative to champion equality for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff.

Announcing its first global allies programme, the firm said its entire executive leadership group, which includes managing partner Matthew Layton (pictured), have signed up.

The firm said it was pushing to recruit allies to support LGBT colleagues throughout its practice, ‘with the aim of fostering a growing culture of inclusion by creating a space where LGBT people feel more supported and able to be themselves’.

Layton said the programme was important ‘because we all have a critical role to play in building and nurturing an inclusive culture in which our LGBT colleagues, and indeed all colleagues, can feel comfortable and confident as part of our team’.

The Arcus Allies programme will extend to all of the firm’s 36 offices, including Riyadh. Homosexual acts are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and ‘promoting the vice’ attracts prison sentences and flogging. 

Hong Kong-based partner Matt Fairclough said the firm was making ‘every effort’ to ensure it was providing a supportive working environment in Asia Pacific, ‘a region where there remain challenges for LGBT rights’.

‘Another important element for us is to work with our clients to support their LGBT colleagues,’ Fairclough said.

‘We want to encourage people in the community to speak up so our LGBT colleagues know they have support, without question of who they are.’