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Race and ethnicity - enabling diverse people to thrive

The world is full of different. Are we truly a global firm if our business is not? We’re striving to attract talented, racially and ethnically diverse people, and create an environment where our colleagues not only feel that they belong – they feel they can thrive.

Ensuring people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are well represented at all levels of our organisation is a priority for us. We’re working hard to build a culture of allyship, where everyone at A&O works to understand the challenges racially and ethnically diverse individuals may face, and plays their part in removing them.

We know that we can make lasting and sustainable change when it comes to racial and ethnic diversity at A&O, and that this will benefit our people, our business and our clients.

The global picture when it comes to race varies greatly from region to region, as do the steps we’re taking. There are no easy or straightforward solutions that will work everywhere: one size does not fit all. So, it’s important that while we aim for a global, firm-wide ethos of inclusion, we need to understand the picture in each country and address race and ethnicity at a local level.

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Diversity and inclusion at Allen & Overy

Our key priorities are to:

  • Understand and address the points in our processes that may act as barriers to attraction, retention and progression of those from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds
  • Identify and track racially and ethnically diverse talent internally and ensure that effective mentoring and sponsorship is in place
  • Build a strong pipeline of racially and ethnically diverse background lawyers and support professionals to ensure good representation at more senior levels
  • Provide the platform for role models and allies at all levels to talk openly about their ambitions, challenges and successes
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Across our organisation we have a range of active affinity groups, aiming to build a culture of allyship.

Asia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, we’re raising awareness of working across cultures and more specific cultural groups such as Indigenous Australians. In Hong Kong, we’re working with the Zubin Foundation to increase awareness of different racial and ethnic groups in our communities. Activity is growing across our entire network.

UK

In the UK, our Race and Ethnicity Network promotes visible role models, mentors, and broader networking opportunities.

US

In the US, our Asian Affinity Group and Black and Latinx Affinity Group are extremely active, hosting educational programming and events, and collaborating with external organizations such as Legal Outreach, Seizing Every Opportunity, and diverse bar associations.

We believe A&O’s responsibility to help build a fair and equitable society goes hand in hand with our commitment to our people, culture and clients. Our pro bono and community investment initiatives continue to enable individuals and communities to access justice, education and employment around the world.

A lot of our work has a direct impact on racially and ethnically diverse communities, such as European Lawyers in Lesvos, where we’re working alongside five other leading law firms to give much-needed legal advice to asylum seekers in the Moria refugee camp.

We know there is still more to do. We all have a role to play in changing the narrative when it comes to race and ethnicity, and in this we are determined to be a leader, not a follower.

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Why Race and Ethnicity is an important issue, Wim Dejonghe, Senior Partner

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We need to recognise the systemic inequalities which exist in many of the societies in which we operate and redouble our efforts to effect tangible change in our workplace and wider network.

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