It’s easy to forget that so many of the great legal and social reforms that have taken place to create greater inclusion for women, ethnic minorities and LGBT people are relatively new, meaning they need to be actively promoted and defended. When great reforms happen, we can tend to forget how hard it was to achieve them and quickly become unable to imagine what the world was like without them. That’s when those legal reforms are most at risk – when we take them for granted. There’s nothing inevitable about progress when it comes to inclusion – if we want it, we have to campaign for it.
“Inclusion is not an additional new piece of work for people in the law – it’s one of the foundations upon which it is built, something that should never be forgotten.”
That’s the commitment Clifford Chance is seeking to make. To deliver inclusion in three distinct spheres: in our firm, for our clients, and in the world. In our firm, we want to ensure that all of our people enjoy equality of opportunity, aspiration, and of experience. That involves us doing more than simply writing sets of guidelines. It requires us to change both the culture and the lived experience. So we have developed innovations such as our mentor match app to support and increase mentoring and reverse mentoring programs.
Understanding that inclusion is intrinsic to the law and central to the ethos of Clifford Chance allows us to use our expertise to develop the best possible legal and strategic advice for our clients as well. Continuing to regard the issue as a matter of justice and understanding the need to strategically campaign for it will be central to any great law firm of the future.
Law firms are also uniquely placed to help bring about greater inclusion across society. If we are prepared to stand for inclusion within our firms then we must always be looking for opportunities where our legal skills can help advance that goal outside our business as well. From our work on decriminalization of homosexuality in Singapore and Brunei to our most recent court victory preventing the dissemination of anti-LGBT material in Poland, we have seen that we can both change the world for people ourselves, and inspire and support others to do the same. Inclusion is not an additional new piece of work for people in the law – it’s one of the foundations upon which it is built, something that should never be forgotten.
Supporting inclusion and diversity has long been part of Clifford Chance’s values and strategy. In addition to training, mentoring, reverse mentoring and role model programs, Clifford Chance has well-supported networks for gender balance, LGBT+ and ethnic minority groups in many of its offices globally.