Stonewall unveils top 20 LGB friendly firms

New research by the LGB charity Stonewall has revealed that 90 per cent of the top 20 firms have openly gay partners or senior managers.

The survey also showed that the profession is making great strides in embracing LGB diversity. The research shows that at least 70 per cent of the top 20 firms have an LGB equality champion sitting on their board or as senior partner. That compares with 40 per cent for all entrants to the latest Stonewall workplace equality index (WEI).

Stonewall has worked with the Interlaw Diversity Forum to rank firms into a list of 20 for LBG diversity for the first time, after a record number of firms made it into the top 100 of the overall rankings (15 January 2014). Simmmons & Simmons tops the list, with Baker & McKenzie coming in second and CMS Cameron McKenna and Herbert Smith Freehills in joint third place. 

Stonewall’s audit of the 100 most gay-friendly employers in January included 10 firms, compared with just one – Pinsent Masons – in 2008. The firm came in joint sixth with Eversheds in the new legal rankings.

Pinsents partner and former chairman of Stonewall David Isaac welcomed the introduction of the rankings, but warned that there was much work to be done, especially among firms operating outside the City and at the bar.

Simmons LGBT network representative David Stone commented: “There’s still no presence in the top 100 for barristers’ chambers, or firms of patent attorneys, trademark attorneys, legal execs or notaries public. Those branches of the legal profession need to engage with equality in a meaningful way.”

Eversheds partner Cornelius Medvei, who is also the senior partner sponsor for the firm’s LBGT group, added: 
“Ensuring that we recruit from the widest possible talent pool is crucial for the firm and we are constantly seeking to increase the support we offer to our people taking into account their backgrounds, cultures and values.”

Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May are the only two magic circle firms to make it into the top 20, at joint ninth, alongside Norton Rose Fulbright, and seventeenth respectively. Freshfields was the first magic circle firm to break into the top 100 rankings overall this year.

Partner and sponsor for the firm’s LGBT network Andrew Austin said: As a founder member of Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champion programme, our focus in 2014 is on making sure that all our LGBT colleagues across the globe are well supported.”

Other Stonewall Global Diversity Champions include Simmons, Barclays, BP, Google, IBM, Procter & Gamble, and Thomson Reuters.

Expanding the influence of the rankings internationally was a reoccurring theme among LGBT champions at the top 20 firms. Sacha de Klerk, diversity and inclusion manager at Norton Rose Fulbright said:
“The networks are increasingly starting to take a more global view and the network senior champions in the UK, Canada and Australia have a regular dialogue to share ideas and best practice.”

Legal Sector ranking Name


Simmons & Simmons


Baker & McKenzie

= 3

CMS Cameron McKenna

= 3

Herbert Smith Freehills


Hogan Lovells

= 6


= 6

Pinsent Masons


Irwin Mitchell

= 9


= 9

Norton Rose Fulbright


K&L Gates


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton


Taylor Wessing


Lewis Silkin


Field Fisher Waterhouse


Wragge & Co.


Slaughter and May


Berwin Leighton Paisner


Bircham Dyson Bell


Weil Gotshal & Manges