Clifford Chance is the first magic circle firm to adopt the United Nations’ (UN) standards of conduct to promote equality for LGBTI people in the workplace.
The firm has joined Baker McKenzie in signing up to the agreements, as well as BNP Paribas, the Coca-Cola Company, EDF, Gap, Godrej, IKEA, Microsoft and SAP.
According to the five ideals, businesses should respect the human rights of LGBTI workers; eliminate workplace discrimination; support LGBTI employees at work; prevent discrimination and related abuses and stand up for the human rights of LGBTI people in the communities where companies do business.
Clifford Chance managing partner Matthew Layton said: “This isn’t just a question of ethics, it is about our ongoing commitment to be a responsible and responsive business.
“Excluding anyone from any group holds everyone back, and every moment that someone spends worrying about what their colleagues or clients might think of who they are is a moment wasted.”
Earlier this month, The Lawyer revealed that 17 law firms were named on Stonewall’s list of top 100 employers for LGBT staff. Pinsent Masons ranked second after Lloyds Banking Group. Other firms to feature on the list include Clifford Chance, which came fourth; Baker McKenzie, which came seventh; BLP, which came in eighth place, and Norton Rose Fulbright, which ranked tenth.
The other firms included are Dentons, Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, CMS, Cameron McKenna, DWF, K&L Gates, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Travers Smith, Eversheds, Slaughter and May and Reed Smith.
A final firm, Simmons & Simmons, is not ranked in the list but recognised as a ‘star performer’, an accolade handed out to employers that have demonstrated “unwavering efforts to create inclusive workplaces where staff can bring their whole selves to work.”
In 2014, fellow magic circle firm Linklaters launched a new ally programme aimed at support LGBT colleagues, while Gowling WLG co-founded The Alliance Network to bring together the LGBT networks of professional services firms in the Midlands area, including PwC, KPMG, Barclays, Mazars and DWF.