We are committed to recruiting diverse talent and creating an inclusive working environment in which all our people can reach their potential. We are proud of the achievements we have made to date as they show HFW is taking action and effecting change. However, we know there is much more work to be done and we will continue to make improvements in our approach.
Some examples of our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion include:
- We have a board level sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion – Olivier Bazin
- Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee approves, monitors and reviews progress against our diversity and inclusion strategy. Progress is reported to the Board quarterly.
- We have a global network of Diversity and Inclusion Champions who implement initiatives within their offices.
- We are Signatories of the Mindful Business Charter, the Equal Representation in Arbitration pledge, the She of the Sea Pledge, the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter and the Prime work experience commitment.
- We are members of Stonewall's Diversity Champions' Programme .
- We partner with Bright Network and the Brokerage to increase the diversity of our trainee intake.
- We review salaries and bonus awards for equal pay purposes and we review and submit our gender pay gap data annually.
- We are an accredited 'Living Wage Employer' in London.
We recognise that Diversity & Inclusion is a very broad topic and so we are focusing on five focus areas: gender equality, mental health and wellbeing, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and social mobility.
- Three members of our management board, as of 1 April 2019, are women. Their roles on the board are Human Resources Director, Corporate & Commercial Group Leader and Chief Financial Officer.
- In 2015, we set an ambitious target to increase the percentage of female fixed share partners to 30% by 2020 and this target was considered as part of the promotion process. We missed our target but reached 27% and between 2016 and 2021 we increased the percentage of women partners (both equity and fixed share) from 10% to 16%.
- As of March 2021, 50% of our Senior Associates and 56% of our Associates were women, which shows we have a strong pipeline of female talent.
- Women are encouraged to develop their external networks, which is key to their development, by engaging with external industry groups such as WISTA (Women's International Shipping & Trade Association).
- Our gender equality network provides an opportunity for men and women to share their experiences and to input into the development of initiatives aiming to ensure gender equality.
- We publish more than the mandatory information required in our UK Gender Pay Gap report - HFW Gender Pay Gap Report 2021/22
- We recognise that men are also negatively impacted by gender inequality and so we have taken a number of actions:
- We have used International Men's Day as an opportunity to share the experiences of working fathers in the firm and to highlight male suicide and the importance of talking and seeking help.
- Our agile working policy applies equally to men as it does to women.
- In 2016, we introduced a shared parental leave policy in London which matches our enhanced maternity pay provision to encourage men to take time to be with their families.
- Our MyFamily seminars in London are well attended by men as well as women.
Mental health and wellbeing
- We believe that mental health is just as important as physical health and we aim to reduce stigma and provide support to everyone in the firm.
- We are Signatories to the Mindful Business Charter, which aims to reduce unnecessary stress,
- We have a Healthy Minds network and a network of Mental Health First Aiders.
- We run events and campaigns in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day.
- In September 2023, we are running a Global Distance Challenge, which encourages colleagues to focus on their own wellbeing as well as supporting our charity partners.
- Over sixty colleagues globally have received mental health first aid training..
- Resilience training is available to everyone in the firm via our formal Learning and Development programme.
- The firm regularly promotes its Employee Assistance Programme which provides access to face to face counselling for partners, staff and household family members if required. The EAP website also provides access to information relating to sleep, nutrition, exercise, managing workload, specific mental health problems etc.
- Every colleague at HFW has full access to the Headspace Mindfulness App, giving them a wealth of content at their fingertips to support good mental health.
- A growing number of individuals across the firm are sharing their personal mental health experiences.
- We aim to increase representation at all levels and create an inclusive environment in which everyone can reach their potential. We have also committed to increase the ethnic diversity of our trainee intake in London.
- In FY 24, we have reviewed our approach and published revised global race and ethnicity principles, which have been informed by discussions with our ethnicity network and colleagues from ethnic minorities. We have also appointed a senior sponsor for this area of work.
- We have partnered with Bright Network to attract a more diverse applicant pool for our vacation schemes and training contracts.
- In the FY23, 95% of the 6th form students who took part in our social mobility work experience programmes were from an ethnic minority. This programme includes: careers talks with lawyers, non-lawyers and clients; a session with Quadrant Chambers; a client case study; an introduction to the graduate recruitment process; CV and interview skills training and presentation skills training. Students are invited to join our work experience alumni network so we can stay in touch with them, share useful careers information and invite them to our annual alumni networking event.
- In October 2022, the race and ethnicity network held events in recognition of UK Black History Month which included a talk by Patrick Vernon OBE, an Afro-Caribbean-inspired menu in the London office cafe, and a takeover of the HFW book club by the network, reading 'Why We Kneel, How We Rise' by Michael Holding.
- In 2022, the London ethnicity network recognised religious events such as Diwali and Hanukkah by bringing in authentic foods and sharing information about the events within the office.
- Resuming a long-running pre-Covid tradition in our London office, the race and ethnicity network held an Eid meal for those who wished to celebrate in our London office café. Thirty members of the office across faiths joined to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
- We aim to increase representation at all levels and create an inclusive environment in which everyone can reach their potential. We also aim to increase access to our London trainee programme for those from lower income backgrounds, to increase awareness of law as a career path and to increase the employability skills of young people.
- We are committed to improving social mobility and in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and 2022, we were listed in the Social Mobility Employer Index Top Employers list. We chose not to make a submission during COVID, or again in 2023 as we were reviewing our overall approach. We have now agreed a new social mobility action plan which is being championed by our COO and a partner sponsor.
- Since 2016 we have been using the Rare contextual recruitment system. We operate a second look policy and this has meant we have identified talent we may have previously overlooked.
- Our partnerships with Bright Network and The Brokerage ensure we engage with people from lower income backgrounds.
- Through our participation in the Prime Commitment we offer work experience to young people from low income backgrounds in the form of one-week structured programmes. All of the students taking part in this programme meet criteria relating to their socio-economic background. This programme includes: careers talks with lawyers, non-lawyers and clients; a session with Quadrant Chambers; a client case study; an introduction to the graduate recruitment process; CV and interview skills training and presentation skills training.
- Students are invited to join our work experience alumni network so we can stay in touch with them, share useful careers information and invite them to our annual alumni networking event.
Sexual orientation/gender identity
- We have worked hard to create an environment that is inclusive of our LGBT colleagues.
- Our Proud@HFW network in London organises events, training and campaigns which are well supported by our LGBT allies. Representatives from the network attend the London Pride Parade annually.
- In 2022, for the fifth consecutive year in a row, our Proud Network celebrated Pride in the London office which consisted of:
- The Network hosted a London BBQ which was open to all London staff and clients.
- The network raised money for The Albert Kennedy Trust through bake sales and hosting a dress up Friday in the office.
- In 2020, on our internal intranet, we published guidance a trans equality policy To ensure trans employees are treated with dignity and respect and are not disadvantaged in the workplace.
- We are members of Stonewall's UK and Global Champions programme.
Armed Forces Covenant
HFW is signed up to and supportive of the Armed Forces Covenant. As a signatory, HFW commits in its business dealings to uphold the key principles of the covenant:
- No member of the Armed Forces community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen.
- In some circumstances, special treatment may be appropriate – especially for the injured or bereaved.
HFW also commits to:
- Promote itself as an armed forces-friendly organisation.
- Support the employment of veterans young and old, working with the Career Transition Partnership in order to establish a tailored employment pathway for service leavers.
- Support the employment of service spouses and partners.
- Offer flexibility in granting leave for service spouses and partners before, during and after a partner’s deployment.
- Support employees who choose to be members of the reserve forces, including by accommodating their training and deployment, where possible.
See our Armed Forces Covenant press release here for further information.
Diversity statistics as at July 2023
|Partners||Fee earners||Trainees||Business Services||Secretarial Services||Total|
|Partners||Fee earners||Trainees||Business Services||Secretarial Services||Total|
|Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic||3%||16%||9%||27%||7%||17%|
|International school (located outside of the UK)||4%||11%||3%||13%||5%||10%|
|UK independent/private school||26%||16%||12%||5%||2%||12%|
|UK state or grammar school (non-selective)||21%||22%||12%||56%||56%||38%|
|UK state or grammar school (selective)||6%||7%||6%||7%||13%||7%|
|First generation to attend University|
|Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual||1%||2%||6%||3%||0%||2%|
(1) The data above is accurate as of 03 July 2023.
(2) Percentages are based on the known population as in some cases staff have chosen not to provide their diversity statistics or have chosen 'prefer not to say'.
Solicitors Regulation Authority diversity data submission
Under the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)'s diversity data reporting requirements, all regulated firms, regardless of size, have to collect, report and publish data about the diversity make-up of their workforce every two years. So, while HFW regularly reports our own diversity data as a matter of course to be transparent about the progress we are making to improve diversity within the firm, we have also compiled the data that has been submitted to the SRA, which can be found here.