As the situation for LGBT people globally is nuanced and ever-changing, the best global employers make engaging with local LGBT communities and non-profit organisations integral to their approach to LGBT equality. Partnerships with local LGBT communities enable organisations to contribute to wider social change and identify risks and opportunities within countries.
Herbert Smith Freehills’ commitment to LGBT equality is communicated both globally and locally on its website and social media channels. To better understand the local context for LGBT people, Herbert Smith Freehills consults local and regional LGBT and human rights groups, legal experts, and other employees in the countries it operates in. To advance LGBT equality in the workplace and beyond, Herbert Smith Freehills maintains relationships with a range of global and local LGBT groups. One of the outcomes of these relationships has been providing pro bono advice to the Human Dignity Trust in helping to challenge the criminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct in countries subject to the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Stonewall interviewed Justin D'Agostino, Asia Managing Partner and Global IRIS Network Chair at Herbert Smith Freehills.
How has community engagement benefitted Herbert Smith Freehills’ LGBT inclusion work and how has it enabled you to advance LGBT equality more widely?
Justin: We're proud to have developed a wide range of relationships with local communities, NGOs and other organisations throughout the network. In an ever-evolving world, it's important for the firm to continuously seek out diverse perspectives, understand the changing experiences of LGBT+ people and communities, listening to what is important, and using these insights to influence how we make a difference.
As a global firm, we have a role to play in supporting and contributing to the communities in which we operate. Developing sustainable and meaningful relationships not only reflects what our people and clients value, but allows the firm to identify opportunities to better influence change and advocate for LGBT+ inclusion.
Do you have any advice for organisations who may be wary about engaging communities throughout the world?
Justin: We'd encourage organisations to engage with the various communities that surround them and within which they can have influence. Those who do so, unlock a range of benefits - better insights into potential challenges and opportunities, deeper understanding of the changing experiences of LGBT+ people and the ability to drive change in partnership. For those getting started, we'd encourage you to listen and focus on developing genuine, meaningful and sustainable relationships. We all operate within local communities, including other organisations, our clients, suppliers and customers. By working together is it possible to create better places for LGBT+ communities across the world.