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Allen & Overy announces new D&I partner for Asia Pacific and takes significant steps to support inclusion

Allen & Overy has announced that Singapore-based partner Pallavi Gopinath Aney has been appointed to the role of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) partner for the Asia Pacific region.

Pallavi will work with our four other regional D&I partners, supported by our nine Asia Pacific D&I partner champions, in continuing to drive A&O's work around creating an inclusive working environment where everyone feels that they can bring their authentic selves to work, develop and support diverse talent pipelines and ensure that our global D&I policies are tailored to meet the needs our local offices. 

Over the last 12 months A&O has hosted a series of D&I focused listening roundtables in Asia Pacific to gather the thoughts and ideas of lawyers and support staff across our APAC offices on all aspects of D&I and what it means to them in their respective locations. Over 300 people took part in a total of 29 focus groups, each one hosted virtually by the local office D&I partner champion. 

Partner Fiona Cumming, who spearheaded this programme commented: “Many global firms have made commitments to D&I across their businesses, but we believe A&O is leading the way by developing localised D&I plans for its thirteen offices in the APAC region. Each office in APAC is at a different point in their D&I journey, with cultural differences sometimes vast. I was keen to ensure that our global initiatives and priorities took into account local nuances, which could not be achieved without first listening carefully to the views of our people in the region.” 

With an impetus for open discussion, team members were grouped with peers of similar seniority and where necessary conversations in the local language were encouraged to ensure inclusivity.

Pallavi Gopinath Aney, Asia Pacific D&I partner commented: “We believe that we created an environment where employees felt empowered to share their honest ideas and thoughts. As a result of these discussions, D&I plans are being tailored for each office and the region, with clear accountability for all of our partners to support and deliver on each of these plans. I look forward to working with our regional D&I partner champions to take the discussion points to the next stage.”

While regional outcomes included relaunching our mentoring programme and continuing our LGBTQ support involving training and awareness of key topics, below are examples of some of our accomplishments at a local level.

  • Established a Women’s network in Jakarta to provide our female employees with positive and inspiring internal and external role models. 
  • Plans to establish a Male Allies initiative in Hong Kong to discuss gender quality and what it means in the Hong Kong office.
  • Launched a dedicated Sydney-focused female Corporate lawyer coaching and mentoring programme offering our Corporate lawyers access to coaches and a peer network, as well as support to map out their career goals.

In late May, A&O launched ‘All In’, the next step in the firm’s push to create an inclusive culture that celebrates and embraces difference. The All In commitment aims to increase the firm’s momentum towards becoming a truly inclusive organisation and will also bring together and amplify A&O’s many diversity and inclusion initiatives that are already in place around its global offices. Over the last few weeks, we have hosted a number of events covering a wide range of topics including why an inclusive culture matters, the importance of allyship and understanding social mobility in the legal profession. ‘All In’ is A&O’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. Ultimately, the aim is for A&O partners and employees to be inspired by what they learn from each other, to engage in topics from a wide variety of voices, and to feel empowered to discover what ‘All In’ means to them.