CMS, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters and Pinsent Masons have been named as Diversity Champions in The Lawyer’s first-ever Diversity Audit, which is published today as the latest in the UK200 series of reports.

The five have been recognised for not only driving the diversity agenda within their organisations but for taking the lead on inclusion too. They are joined in the index by 20 Diversity Pioneers (see full list below), which are all looking at ways of creating more inclusive places of work.

Firms in the index are not ranked, with issues around statistical reporting and the complexity involved in giving weightings to the different strands of diversity rendering numerical comparisons meaningless.

While the Diversity Champions are recognised as industry leaders, it would be inaccurate to say that the five are the sector’s most diverse firms. All have partnerships that are at least three-quarters male, not a single Hogan Lovells partner has yet admitted to having a disability, and Linklaters’ partners are three times more likely to be privately educated than the population at large.

However, all are pouring not just resources but also partner time and commitment into transforming diversity from a nice-to-have HR project into a business-critical issue.

What sets them apart is that they have realised that for any diversity programme to be truly effective they do not just need to be hiring diverse talent at the junior end, but ensuring their senior levels are open to inclusivity too.

Hogan Lovells partner and global diversity committee co-chair Ruth Grant said: “Diversity is a subject that you can do at all sorts of levels and can appear to be doing well by just doing ‘stuff’, but experience shows that just doing stuff doesn’t really work, you have to embed diversity issues in the firm and that particularly means among partners as a group.

“We had a diversity plan from 2012-15 that was very much around building focus and awareness. We didn’t want anyone to be able to say ‘what’s diversity?’. This year we agreed a new plan with a number of strands, but the fundamental issue is around embedding and action planning.”

According to CMS diversity and inclusion partner Daniel Winterfeldt there has been a shift towards inclusion as well as diversity “because it’s fundamental”. However, he warned that while inclusion “is really important”, “people are still struggling with diversity”.

Our Diversity Pioneers are getting to grips with the issues that have hampered diversity in the profession, with the likes of DAC Beachcroft setting up a diversity and inclusion group to ensure diversity is at the forefront of decision-making and leadership while DLA Piper has put in place a series of regional diversity and inclusion action plans that all focus on gender and at least one other diversity strand.

For more, see this week’s cover story and leader and to order a full copy of the Diversity Audit, contact Richard Edwards on 020 7970 4672 or