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
Associate, Litigation

Race and Ethnicity @A&O

This network focuses on the needs of and issues affecting Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals at A&O. It provides networking opportunities for ethnic minority staff and promotes professional relationships with in-house counsel and client. It also encourages and facilitates inititatives for professional development and to promote ethnic diversity within A&O; and provides a forum for mentoring for ethnic minority people 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

Gender Equality Network

This network was formed as a platform to discuss (and help to address) issues affecting women at all stages of their career at A&O.  Achieving more balance and diversity at A&O is essential for our business and for our people and helps us to connect with our clients and communities.

Gender Equality gives us a forum to share ideas, experiences and perspectives from people at different levels and in different roles across the firm. Our events are open to members of staff at all levels of seniority – both women and men.

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

Disability

We have recently launched a global disability network to support colleagues who have a disability, those who have caring responsibilities for people with disabilities and those who are allies.

The London office is signed up to the government Disability Confident Scheme and we also 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

Social Mobility

In 2020, the firm was ranked 28 in the Social Mobility Employers Index, a bench-marking initiative that ranks employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds. 

Social mobility is a strategic priority, internally we have a Social Mobility Working Group and externally, we are one of ten law firms to participate in a research project with the Bridge Group looking at how those from lower socio-economic backgrounds progress to partnership. We have also recently partnered with The 93% club who are the UK’s largest social mobility network for students across 35+ universities.

We deliver two key programmes for students which focus on social mobility: Smart Start and A&O Accelerate.

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

Smart Start launched in 2009 with the aim of giving young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds access to high quality work experience in the world of business. It is currently run in partnership with Causeway Education.

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

Faith @ A&O

Christian Fellowship Group

The A&O Christian Fellowship Group (CFG) is a welcoming and friendly non-denominational group of fee earners and support staff from across the firm.

Our vision is to encourage Christians to trust in God’s promises and the salvation accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ (as revealed by God through His Word in the Bible), and to share their faith and the hope that they have in Jesus with colleagues and clients in a sensitive and appropriate way.​ 

Muslim Network

The A&O Muslim Network is an internal faith group for Muslims at the firm. It aims to support and encourage colleagues across A&O to be comfortable in their faith and successful in the workplace. The Muslim Network will work to raise awareness of the Islamic faith in a sensitive and appropriate way, recognise diversity and connect with members across the firm.

All members of the network are invited to a series of events throughout the year with aims to allow members to get to know each other, meet new people across the firm, develop friendships and strengthen each other’s faith. 

Families @ A&O

A&O recognises that it can be challenging to juggle work with family, parenting and caring responsibilities. The aim of the Families network, is to provide support to all employees, not just parents, as we understand that family support plays a major part in everyone’s lives, so our sessions are often quite varied, to meet the interests and circumstances of all our employees.

As a member of the Families@A&O network, you will have access to the following benefits:

  • You will be invited to attend A&O family events, such as our regular lunchtime seminars
  • You can share ideas and advice with other members of our network
  • The Families@A&O (parents) wiki provides you with access to topical news feeds and discussion items
  • Ask an external expert your questions about a parenting or caring issue that affects you
  • Sign up to the Cityparents network and attend free networking events

External Partnerships

Rare 

We 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.

We also we use their contexualised recruitment system which puts candidates' achievements into context.

Aspiring Solicitors

This partnership 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.

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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