Herbies, Ashurst tap Stonewall, Freshfields for new diversity heads

Ashurst and Herbert Smith have both made heavy-hitting diversity appointments as the Legal Services Board (LSB) forges ahead with plans to force firms to disclose statistics in relation to social mobility.

Carolyn Lee
Carolyn Lee

Herbert Smith has recruited David Shields as the firm’s new global head of diversity and inclusion. Shields, who joins from LGBT lobbying group Stonewall, where he was director of workplace programmes, replaces Carolyn Lee. At Stonewall Shields was responsible for launching the annual workplace equality index, now a key benchmarking exercise for measuring the most gay-friendly employers.

Lee, who recently left Herbert Smith to focus on outside business interests, was one of the first heads of diversity to be appointed by a major City law firm. She was instrumental in setting up the firm’s Inclusivity Group and various networking groups, notably the LGBT network.

Partner Ian Gatt QC, chairman of Herbert Smith’s Inclusivity Group, said: “Carolyn’s going to be a hard act to follow. Thanks to the critical role she’s played building awareness of diversity across the firm, we now have a much better understanding of its importance and why we need to engage with it.  

“But we’re confident that we’ve chosen the right person to succeed her. David combines a strong degree of pragmatism with innovative thinking and a willingness to challenge, qualities that we believe will be essential to advancing the diversity agenda at Herbert Smith.”

Before joining Stonewall Shields was director of leadership, learning and workplace transformation at Barts and the London NHS trust, and director of HR and communications in the NHS.

Meanwhile, Ashurst has appointed Deborah Dalgleish the former global head of diversity and inclusion at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. She will become the firm’s first-ever dedicated diversity professional.

Deborah Dalgleish
Deborah Dalgleish

Dalgleish, a former Herbert Smith real estate lawyer, headed Freshfields’ diversity function for two-and-a-half years. Prior to that she was in charge of trainee recruitment at the magic circle firm.

Commenting on her move Dalgleish said: “Working at Ashurst, which has a genuine desire to make the most of its people, seemed too good an opportunity to miss. I very much look forward to joining the firm.”

Kate Laffar, currently Freshfields’ head of internal communications, has taken over from Dalgleish.

The hires coincide with the LSB’s decision to require firms to publish nformation about socio-economic background of their workforce for the first time, as well as statistics on age, gender, disability, ethnic group and caring responsibilities, as reported by Lawyer2B.com earlier this week (26 July 2011).