Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has become the first law firm to offer to cover part or all of the costs of gender reassignment surgery for its transgender employees in the UK.

The firm has launched global transitioning guidelines which contain the medical benefit as well as access to psychological support under the firm’s medical benefits scheme. Other benefits include time off for medical appointments, procedures and for those who need to support family members who are transitioning.

Global head of disputes and regional managing partner for Asia Justin D’Agostino said: “We are a trans inclusive workplace, and these guidelines ensure that trans employees are treated with the same respect and understanding in every office across our global network. I am proud of the commitment the firm and IRIS Network is making to our colleagues, and am grateful that we are able reflect on the importance of valuing every individual as their true and whole self.”

“The transgender community faces ongoing discrimination and in launching these guidelines we are acknowledging the ongoing impact of transphobia on the everyday lives of our transgender colleagues and clients and the importance of creating a global workplace that is safe and supportive.”

As part of the guidelines, the inclusion of trans employees is to be acknowledged throughout the workplace, with a summary of gender diversity and identity terminology to educate colleagues.

HSF’s policy update is just the latest in a series in improvements made by law firms to be more inclusive.

Clifford Chance became the first magic circle firm to adopt the United Nations’ (UN) standards of conduct to promote equality for LGBTI people in the workplace earlier this month, joining Baker McKenzie, 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.

In 2014, Linklaters launched its LGBT ally programme as a way for straight employees to champion LGBT rights within the firm.

Pinsent Masons was beaten only by Lloyds Banking Group in Stonewall’s list of top 100 employers for LGBT staff, followed by Clifford Chance in fourth place; Baker Mckenzie in seventh; Berwin Leighton Paisner – now Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP)– and Norton Rose Fulbright in tenth.