Case Study - Employee Policy

Strong and robust policies are necessary to underpin an effective approach to tackling workplace discrimination. From ensuring equal access to benefits for same-sex partners to communicating zero tolerance of bullying, employee policy is the foundation of
a working environment that respects all individuals.

Diversity and inclusion sits at the heart of Herbert Smith Freehill’s success and is built into their clear and comprehensive strategy for attracting talent, connecting with clients and innovating practice. There are specific milestones associated with this strategy, including performance on Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

The firm has developed a diversity and inclusion ‘hymnsheet’ that clearly articulates the value of having a diverse workforce and its importance to the firm. The firm has built
into their charter the belief that “diverse teams demonstrate higher levels of performance and pro!tability” establishing a clear business case for work around sexual orientation. The firm’s commitment to its gay staff is given further visibility by their ‘Connect’ campaign – a series of pro!les of employees, including LGB employees, highlighting the value of diversity to the firm.

The firm has a comprehensive benefits policy that is inclusive of LGB staff. Wherever references are made to a ‘partner’ of an employee, it is further clarified by specifying that it includes same-sex partners. A system is in place to ensure that all policies are reviewed every two years and the Chief Executive meets on a quarterly basis with the Inclusivity Group leads to ensure that the diversity and inclusion programmes are integrated with the firm’s vision. This practice has been strengthened further through the merger of Herbert Smith and Freehills in October 2012 and the launch of the LGBT
network in Australia to create a global network for the firm across its international offices.