find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Competition, Policy & Regulatory
Category: Other | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Work with a well regarded Partner · Sydney CBD
View details
Commercial Litigation Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Lawyers Weekly Australia Partner of the Year 2016, Insolvency
View details
MULTIPLEX Regional Legal Counsel (Vic) | 7 to 10 years + PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Career defining in-house role · Tier One international contractor
View details
Junior Lawyer - Personal Injury Law
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Parramatta & Western Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Highly specialized practice · Challenging role with great opportunities
View details
IR Advisor/Member Advocate
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: St Leonards NSW 2065
· Permanent (0.8-1.0 FTE) role in a developing team
View details
HSF recognised for diversity

HSF recognised for diversity

Herbert Smith Freehills has been ranked the best law firm for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) workplace inclusion.

The firm, judged to be the 12th most inclusive employer for LGBTI individuals in Australia, received an Achievement Award at Pride in Diversity’s annual awards held in Sydney last week (16 May).

The only other law firm to make the top 20 list was Gilbert + Tobin.

HSF workplace relations partner Tony Wood (pictured) was also recognised at the luncheon, receiving the Executive Leadership Award for LGBTI Workplace Inclusion.

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Wood said the push to promote sexual diversity at HSF in Australia began soon after Freehills’ merger with Herbert Smith in October 2012.

He recalled presentations by then joint-CEO David Willis in the early days of the tie-up, who revealed that LGBTI inclusion was an important underpinning of the London firm’s culture.

“I’m not being uncharitable to [Australian] partners, but a reasonable share of partners didn’t know what LGBT meant at the time,” said Wood.

He added that Willis’ “refreshing” leadership in the LGBTI space acted as an impetus for the Australian arm to catch up to the UK.

In March 2013, five months after the merger became official, HSF launched an LGBT network in Sydney and Melbourne with the aim of stamping out unconscious bias against LGBT individuals.

Wood admitted that he has confronted both overt and subtle discrimination over his 20 years at HSF, but in recent years there had been “enormous generational change”.

“The way modern firms operate is chalk and cheese compared to ... even 10 years ago,” he said.

“Employees are absolutely intolerant nowadays to being subjects to subtle forms of derision or discrimination.”

The Bar, however, steeped in tradition and trailing private practice in the area of innovation, may be more susceptible to these kinds of behaviours, he added.


It makes business sense

Wood also touted the business benefits of an inclusive workplace, including gaining an edge in the battle for talent. Wood explained that lawyers want to work in inclusive, diverse and supportive environments.

“It is a distinction for us in the market ... and we have to keep raising the bar because others are going to catch up to us and we have to keep striving to get better,” he said, adding that it’s not just potential recruits the firm is trying to impress.

Wood claimed LGBTI programs also send the message to clients that a firm is progressive.

“If we stood silent and did little in this space, clients would be cynical ... about what kind of firm we are,” he said.

A number of HSF’s clients made Pride in Diversity’s list of the most inclusive employers for LGBTI individuals. They included Westpac (3rd), Commonwealth Bank (4th) and National Australia Bank (14th).

“If we didn’t demonstrate our support for the type of initiatives that are obviously important to them, they are entitled to question whether we’re the type of business that they want to align with,” added Wood.

Pride in Diversity is a not-for-profit workplace program that assists Australian employers with the inclusion of LGBTI employees. Its Australian Workplace Equality Index is Australia’s benchmark on LGBTI workplace inclusion.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

HSF recognised for diversity
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Human body, illegal organ trafficking, ALHR
Sep 22 2017
Australia poised to combat illegal organ harvesting: ALHR
The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights are calling for changes to the law so that organ trafficking...
Online service, barristers, BarristerSELECT, Stephen Foley
Sep 22 2017
New online service leverages barristers’ clerks to aid briefing
A new online tool has been launched to help NSW solicitors find the most suitable barristers for the...
NSW District Court judge, Tim Gartelmann SC, next appointment,
Sep 22 2017
Silk replaces outgoing NSW District Court judge
A barrister has been named as the next appointment to the NSW District Court, following the retireme...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...