The legal profession dominates this year’s list of gay-friendly employers, with firms and individuals both lauded for their efforts.
In total, 17 legal practices feature in a list of the top 100 employers compiled by the charity Stonewall. Five firms make it into the top 10.
The highest placed law firm was Pinsent Masons in second place, beaten only by Lloyds bank. It was followed by Clifford Chance (fourth), Baker McKenzie (seventh), Berwin Leighton Paisner (eighth) and Norton Rose Fulbright (tenth).
Dentons, Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, Freshfields, CMS, DWF and Cleary Gottlieb all made it into the top 50.
The annual list, compiled from 439 employers who participate in a workplace equality index, acknowledges the work being done to make an inclusive workplace.
Kate Fergusson, head of responsible business and chair of Pinsent Masons’ allies network, said: ‘In the last 12 months, we have increased our focus on gender identity, introducing gender identity monitoring and reporting, publishing new guidelines on transitioning at work and providing training and awareness raising sessions for our people.’
Maurits Dolmans, senior LGBT diversity champion for Cleary Gottlieb, which reached the top 50 for the first time, said diversity and inclusion are about more than being non-discriminatory.
‘We have long recognised that diversity of persons makes for diversity of thought,’ he said.
‘And in our industry, diversity of thought is gold dust. It makes our firm better at doing what we do for our clients, and fundamentally, it makes our firm a better and more fun place to be.’
As well as firms’ success, there was also recognition for Maziar Jamnejad, a senior associate at magic circle firm Freshfields, who was named the Stonewall ‘ally of the year’.
Jamnejad was the first non-LGBT member of Halo, the firm’s LGBT network, and set up its ally network, Halo Champions, to develop and conduct training for new members.
He took on the role of bi and trans representative for Halo and has coached partners on LGBT issues and helped colleagues with concerns they may face when coming out.
Stonewall said Jamnejad had been ‘relentless in his efforts to raise the visibility and profile of the Freshfields LGBT and ally community’.
Jamnejad said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be recognised for my efforts to encourage openness and equality for my LGBT colleagues at Freshfields. I wear the label "ally" with immense pride and look forward to continuing to work to help the firm be an inclusive and welcoming place for all.’
Law Society president Robert Bourns added: ‘As solicitors we uphold the law, including important equality legislation. The inclusion of such a significant number of law firms in Stonewall's index reflects how many are leading by example.
‘Diversity is a powerful force for good. We also know that businesses benefit from strong diversity and inclusion policies and practices that help attract both clients and the best talent.’