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We are committed to recruiting diverse talent and creating an inclusive working environment in which all of 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 affecting 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 recognise that Diversity & Inclusion is a very broad topic and so we are focusing on two global focus areas (gender equality and mental health) and three additional London specific focus areas (ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and social mobility).

Gender equality

  • Three members of our management board, as of 1 April 2019, are women. Their roles on the board are Finance Practice Head, Construction Industry 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%.
  • We recognise we still have a long way to go and following a review of our approach and progress to date, we have launched a new gender equality strategy, backed by a series of ambitious targets that include women accounting for at least 40% of all senior lateral hires and internal promotions over the next three years.
  • 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 2018/19
  • 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, and we have been promoting the charter globally, one pillar every quarter, since World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2020.
  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have run higher numbers of wellbeing webinars covering a variety of topics such as working from home and nutrition. We have also organised yoga classes to complement the weekly mindfulness sessions already available to colleagues.
  • 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 February 2020, we ran our first global Stay Well Charity Challenge which encouraged colleagues to focus on their own wellbeing as well as supporting our charity partners. 
  • Over one hundred of our partners have attended mental health awareness training since May 2017.
  • 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.
  • A growing number of individuals across the firm are sharing their personal mental health experiences.

Ethnicity

  • 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 21, we have reviewed our approach and developed 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. Further details will be communicated later in 2021. 
  • We have partnered with Aspiring Solicitors to attract a more diverse applicant pool for our vacation schemes and training contracts. 61% of attendees at our FY21 events were from ethnic minorities.
  • In the FY21, 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 2020, the London ethnicity network held four events with The Shipowners' Club, in recognition of Black History Month which included a talk by The Black Curriculum, a Soca dance class, a Caribbean cooking class and a classical musical performance.
  • In 2019, 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.
  • In 2019, the London Ethnicity Network recognised Chinese New Year. Cultural food and red envelopes (which traditionally family members fill with money) were available throughout the office and red flowers and bamboo were displayed in reception.
  • For the fourth year in a row, in 2019, the London ethnicity network held an Iftar meal for those who wished to celebrate at a local restaurant. Ten members of the office across faiths joined to celebrate the end of the daily Ramadan fast.

Social mobility

  • 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, we were listed in the Social Mobility Employer Index Top Employers list. We chose not to make a submission in 2020 as we were reviewing our overall approach and have now agreed a new social mobility action plan which is being championed by our COO and a board level 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 partnership with Aspiring Solicitors and our involvement in the City Solicitors Horizons social mobility programme ensure we engage with people from lower income backgrounds.
  • Through our commitment to Prime 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. 
  • In the London borough of Southwark, we support 6th form students at four secondary schools through our partnership with Career Ready and we run reading schemes with two local primary schools.

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 2018, to highlight Bi-Visibility day, the network invited Jonathan Andrews, trainee solicitor at Reed Smith and co-founder of the London Bi Network to speak to the network about the challenges faced by the bi community.
  • In 2019, for the third consecutive year in a row, our Proud Network ran a Pride campaign in the London office which consisted of: 
    • Updating the HFW logo on social media profiles to a rainbow background. This was up for the entire Pride month (June) until after London Pride.
    • A desk drop which included rainbow badges and 'five ways to be an LGBT+ ally' cards.
    • 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.
  • Since 2017, the London office offers LGBT+ Allies training in partnership with Stonewall to those who wish to join. The London office currently has 42 allies who have completed the training. The training covers what LGBT+ actually is, how to show visible support for the LGBT+ community and the importance of this the importance of inclusive language etc.
  • Allies show their support for the LGBT+ community by displaying rainbow badges, flags or stickers and by displaying 'I am proud to be an LGBT ally' cards on their desks. 
  • On our internal intranet, we have published guidance on how to address trans* people in an accurate and respectful way and we have introduced a transitioning at work policy. 
  • We are members of Stonewall's UK and Global Champions programme and use Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index as an opportunity to identify areas we are performing well in as well as areas in which we can improve.

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 a degree of 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 March 2021

Global statistics

Partners Fee earners Trainees Business Services Secretarial Services Total
Gender
Women 15.56% 41.72% 58.54% 54.61% 98.46% 52.25%

London statistics

Partners Fee earners Trainees Business Services Secretarial Services Total
Gender
Women 13.43% 36.24% 62% 46.45% 96% 46.80%
Ethnicity
Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic 5.97% 9.17% 19.23% 25.81% 4% 14.71%
School attended
International school (located outside of the UK) 5.97% 10.92% 19.23% 10.32% 8% 10.38%
Other 1.49% 3.06% 3.85% 3.23% 0% 2.65%
UK independent/private school 26.87% 26.64% 26.92% 6.45% 4% 16.34%
UK state or grammar school (non-selective) 19.40% 21.83% 23.08% 58.71% 50% 37.97%
UK state or grammar school (selective) 4.48% 7.42% 7.69% 9.68% 18% 9.05%
First generation to attend University
Yes 31.34% 23.14% 3.85% 17.42% 6% 18.98%
Sexual orientation
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual - - - - - 2.43%
Disability
Yes - - - -   1.99%

Notes

(1) The data above is accurate as of 13 August 2019.

(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'.

Diversity logos

We are working with clients across our international network to help them minimise the impact of COVID-19 on their business and to prepare for what's next. To find out more, visit our dedicated Covid-19 hub.

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