Diversity & Inclusion

Stand out from the crowd.

Our goal is simple; we want everyone at the firm to feel comfortable, respected and able to bring their best selves to work.

Achieving this takes honesty, empathy and dedication. We’re proud of the progress we’ve already made, and are aware there is more work to be done, we’re excited to continue moving in the right direction to accomplish this mission.

To help us on this journey, we’ve established five guiding principles to guide our actions:

1. Accountability
We challenge ourselves to make our culture more inclusive for all.

2. Maximum impact
We focus our resources on areas that will have the biggest impact on the success of our people and business.

3. Global & local
We understand that the issues and challenges are different in each jurisdiction and adapt our approach while pursuing a common goal.

4. Open & honest
We are courageous in telling our story and sharing our challenges.

5. Influencing the bigger picture
We actively contribute to relevant societal discussions outside our firm.

At A&O we recognise that people are different, in ways that we can see and ways that we can’t. We think that is a good thing. As well as creating a rich working environment that makes our work more enjoyable, the business benefits are clear. In a fast moving and complex world being diverse and ensuring that we are inclusive helps us to attract the best people, innovate and understand and relate to our clients.

Wim Dejonghe
Senior Partner

DIVERSITY

Meet the firms networks and groups you could be part of as a trainee:

A&Out

A&Out is the firm’s global network for our LGBT+ community, with over 100 members and 700 allies across the world, it allows people across A&O to promote and support the equality of their LGBT+ colleagues. We were named as a Top Global Employer by Stonewall and ranked in the top 100 in their UK Workplace Equality Index 2020.

There is often a misconception that, at work, your corporate identity must be distinct from your personal or 'true' identity. However, the culture at A&O encourages openness and individuality, and dispels any separation between these two identities, which is particularly significant for LGBT+ staff. The A&Out network provides a community of LGBT+ staff and, of great importance, allies who welcome and value bringing your LGBT+ identity to work. A&Out also has exceptional role models who promote LGBT+ rights and equality within A&O and beyond. On my own experience, having 'come out' only shortly before I started at A&O, I felt nothing but warmth and acceptance from all of my colleagues. A&Out also provided a community of LGBT+ individuals who have shared similar experiences and been faced with similar hurdles. As a result, I have not once hesitated to bring my true identity to work, which is thanks to the people and the initiatives that make A&O a truly inclusive place of work.

Elliott Glover
Current Trainee

Race and Ethnicity @ A&O

Race & Ethnicity @ A&O, was formed in 2018 and focuses on the needs of and issues affecting Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals at A&O.  It provides networking opportunities for BAME staff, promotes professional relationships with in-house counsel and clients and offers mentoring opportunities for BAME employees at all levels.

It’s a great to be included in the EMpower 50 Ethnic Minority Future Leaders ranking and I’d like to congratulate all of the others on the list but what’s more exciting is what this list represents. Above all it is recognition of how important it is that we continue push the issue of under representation of ethnic minorities in professional environments, and all the excellent work that is being done to support this objective. Here at A&O, the launch of our BAME network is a big step in the right direction, I look forward to helping the group to grow within the BAME community and beyond.

MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto
Senior Associate, Banking
Find out more about EMpower

Global Women’s Network

A&O’s Global Women’s Network, works to ensure that we are a firm where women can achieve their potential and rise to the most senior positions. Though creating genuine equality is a challenge we face globally and the barriers vary depending on jurisdiction, there is a lot that we can learn from each other.

We know it will take time to achieve equal proportions of men and women at the top of our business, but our gender strategy is designed to provide visibility and accountability for making progress every year until we get there. We also know that barriers exist for women in the workplace whatever their role, so many of our initiatives are designed to benefit support staff as well as lawyers.

Our goal is to create a truly level playing field. Providing effective networks and facilitating open and honest conversations is an important part of achieving this goal. We encourage as many people as possible – men and women – to get involved in the network and take advantage of the opportunities that the network will offer.

Lucy Oddy
Partner, International Capital Markets

Rare

A&O partner with Rare Recruitment and sponsor two of their key programmes, Articles and Discuss, which introduce us to high calibre students from ethnic and social economic disadvantage.  These sessions aim to equip them with the skills to be excellent lawyers whether that is at A&O or another firm.

I was a candidate on Rare Recruitment’s “Discuss” programme as I entered my penultimate year of university. I was the first in my family to have qualifications, go to university or work in the City and, prior to the Discuss programme, I had no experience of A&O at all. The Discuss programme gave me first hand exposure to A&O when I visited the firm for an open day. Here, I took part in a commercial case study, I networked with trainees and I learned about the firm’s values from the graduate recruitment team. In fact, by speaking to the graduate recruitment team through Discuss, they put me in touch with members of the firm’s LGBT network, A&Out. This commitment to diversity and going the extra mile for me (an applicant who had very little experience of the city) increased my confidence to apply to a firm like A&O immensely. Additionally, and probably more importantly, it allowed me to imagine myself actually working in a firm like A&O which is something I wouldn’t have contemplated before.

Ashley Ken
Current Trainee

Aspiring Solicitors

Our work with Aspiring Solicitors helps us to reach a diverse range of people who are interested in a legal career. We have a number of Aspiring Solicitors Ambassadors at the firm who have each benefitted from the support provided and are actively involved in helping the firm promote inclusion in the workplace.

Aspiring Solicitors provided a fantastic platform to gain exposure to the legal sector, participation in the Barclays Legal Week is one highlight that comes to mind. Access to professional ambassadors was also integral. It was invaluable to ask future and current trainees what they thought of the firm, what life was like as a trainee and to ask for application advice. Finally, the Aspiring Solicitors team were also fantastic ahead of attending interviews. In advance of my interview with A&O, Gemma took the time to help me prepare for my interview, going through preparation questions and suggesting techniques that I could employ to overcome difficult questions.

Christian Parker Associate
Corporate
Meet our Professional Ambassadors

MyPlus Consulting

We work with My Plus Recruiters Club in order to reach candidates with disabilities. As founding members of this group, we continue to attend and host events, workshops and seminars around disability-specific issues, such as best practice throughout the recruitment process.

A&O has a great approach towards inclusion – there are so many different initiatives and other team members are so supportive. I’ve been through some difficult times to get to where I am now and the resilience and positive attitude that experience engenders is something I feel that the firm values.

Matt Short
Associate, Banking
Find out more

A&O Accelerate

A&O Accelerate is run in conjunction with IntoUniversity, with the aim to improve social mobility in the legal industry. During the month of August, pre-university students from underrepresented backgrounds take part in innovative and practical challenges to gain their first insight into the world of commercial law.

A&O Accelerate gave me an incredible insight into the firm’s global strategy, key practice areas and firm wide initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion. I particularly enjoyed learning about the firm’s innovative culture by engaging in workshops with Fuse because we explored the development of technology to create greater efficiencies within the legal sector. I also enjoyed participating in the networking sessions and completing the due diligence for an M&A case study. Overall, A&O Accelerate developed my professional skills and encouraged me to pursue a career in commercial law. The Graduate Recruitment team were especially accommodating and provided us with invaluable advice on future applications.

Panashe Kanjere
Law student, LSE
For us, the case for attracting and retaining diverse talent is obvious – our product is our people. We and our clients take outstanding legal knowledge as a given – what makes our lawyers the best in the business, is their insight, their willingness to challenge and their delight in solving problems that others see as insurmountable. Diversity of thought is what makes our business successful.
Jo Dooley
UK Head, Diversity & Inclusion
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