Freshfields adds socio-economic background to census questions

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is to ask partners and employees to disclose details of their socio-economic backgrounds under plans to extend its national firm census.

Deborah Dalgleish
Deborah Dalgleish

Head of diversity and inclusion Deborah Dalgleish said: “It’s been in one’s eyeline for some time; we need more transparency around who we’re taking on.”

The firm already quizzes staff on gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and disability.

Dalgleish said: “We collect equal opportunities information and now plan to extend the data we ­collect to include social mobility information and the two new ethnicity categories, which will be added to this year’s national census.

“What we’d like is for everyone to return the information, but they have the absolute right not to disclose anything they don’t wish to.”

Baker & McKenzie, meanwhile, has launched a social mobility focus group aimed at breaking down class barriers.

The Legal Services Board (LSB) is currently consulting on far-reaching proposals to monitor social mobility across the profession. The LSB aims to encourage greater transparency around the profession’s make-up to encourage more firms to introduce initiatives to encourage diversity.