Written by
Justine Thompson

Published
21 Aug 2017

How can we achieve progress around LGBT+ inclusion on a global stage?

21 Aug 2017 • by Justine Thompson

What challenges have you faced recruiting LGBT staff across the globe?

While our LGBT+ policy and commitments apply across every Baker McKenzie office worldwide, we accept that we are not able to publicly advocate around LGBT+ issues in all offices. While in London, we can monitor and report on diversity data through our recruitment processes, this is not the case in many locations. This can often mean it is challenging to appreciate hiring trends in a number of offices. 

What programmes or initiatives have you introduced and what results have you seen?

Promoting ourselves as an LGBT+ friendly employer has been a priority for Baker McKenzie for some years, and the firm has taken a public stance globally as an advocate for LGBT+ equality. In addition to the Stonewall Top Global Employers ranking, we regularly promote our stance around LGBT issues through our firm-wide social media channels.  In 2016, we introduced the "We Are Not Neutral" strapline to support our LGBT+ advocacy. We wanted to send a strong message to the LGBT+ community that we will act as an ambassador or – wherever possible – advocate for LGBT rights, and that any Baker McKenzie office will provide a safe space where LGBT+ colleagues feel able to be themselves at work.  

We also have a global LGBT+ Business Resource Group, comprising of partners and senior talent specialists across the firm which has acted as a fantastic avenue to share best practice and to provide guidance and support to offices who are further behind in their journey. We have seen tangible results across our global network. We were the only law firm to march in Belfast Pride in 2016. Our Istanbul office is one of the only formal buildings in Turkey's history to display a rainbow flag to celebrate LGBT+ Pride. The launch of our Joint Asian Offices LGBT+ network was marked by a celebratory evening attended by 200 clients and staff and our offices in Brazil have hosted joint Pride events, including advocacy for the trans community.

What is your advice for other senior business leaders in making change happen across the globe?

We believe diversity makes us stronger and better placed to serve the communities in which we work. We also believe deeply that everyone should have the right to be themselves work.

If we do not proactively seek to attract, develop and retain members of the LGBT+ community, we are missing a key source of talent and innovation. I have seen first hand, (through Stonewall's Global Senior Champion of the Year, Harry Small and the firm's Chair, Paul Rawlinson) the impact senior business leaders can have in bringing LGBT+ inclusion to the forefront, and in embedding inclusion & diversity as a core strategic priority.  

To achieve progress around LGBT+ inclusion on a global stage is challenging – there are many misconceptions around the legal landscape and cultural challenges to navigate. Being bold and steadfast around your core values, while being prepared to flex your approach to appreciate local nuances is critical.