Diversity & Inclusion
At Allen & Overy we know that our approach to diversity will be an important consideration for you when researching the firm.
Our goal is simple, we want A&O to be a place where a diverse group of people can be themselves and bring the best of themselves to their careers.
Our approach to Diversity & Inclusion
”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. Being diverse and ensuring that we are inclusive helps us to attract the best people, innovate and understand and relate to our clients.
Our commitment to diversity can be seen through our Diversity & Inclusion strategy, owned and championed by the Board and People & Performance Board. It will be reviewed annually to ensure that we are focusing on the right things and our Diversity Advisory Committee will provide guidance throughout the year to ensure that we are moving in the right direction.
We will continue to be committed to supporting diversity in the broadest sense and continuing to ensure we have an inclusive environment for everyone.”
We have the following networks in place at A&O:
- LGBT network, A&Out
- Womens networks
- Families @ A&O (for parents and carers)
For more information on our initiatives and networks please visit the A&O corporate site.
Awards and Recognitions:
Allen & Overy has been awarded an ‘Exceptional’ status by the BITC regional Work Inspiration Award for our diversity-led work experience placement programmes.
In 2013 the graduate recruitment team were awarded the inaugural AGR social mobility award for best social mobility in the UK.
In London we are members and/or sponsors of the following organisations to ensure that we are up-to-date with and supporting diversity and inclusion best practice:
- The 30% Club
- Aspiring Solicitors
- Blind in Business
- Business Disability Forum
- My Plus Recruiters Club
- Opportunity Now (gender)
- Rare Recruitment (ethnicity and social mobility)
- Stonewall (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender)
Graduate Recruitment & Diversity
The graduate recruitment team is committed to Diversity & Inclusion by ensuring we recruit a diverse cohort of trainees and as a result we have implemented a number of initiatives. In addition to this in the recruitment year 2016/2017 we will be visiting and working with 30 universities across the UK and Ireland.
By enabling us to reach and engage with a broad range of individuals from under represented backgrounds our partnership with Aspiring Solicitors helps us to ensure we are continuing to recruit high caliber talent across a range of backgrounds.
To find out more click here.
Rare Contextualised Recruitment System (CRS)
A&O were pioneers in the development of the Rare CRS system. The system allows us to understand a candidates’ application form in context. It highlights refugee or carer status, receiving free school meals and relative academic attainment from school attended and thereby helps us put achievements into perspective.
Articles & Discuss programmes
These are programmes we invest in to support 50 BAME (black and minority ethnic) candidates and candidates from lower socio economic backgrounds to help support applications for vacation schemes or training contracts and it includes support and coaching right from application to interview.
We recognise that people with disabilities require varied levels and types of support; we are therefore committed to understanding your needs on a case by case basis. Internally, we have reviewed human resources and recruitment processes, making adjustments and providing support to candidates and existing staff, with help from a disability expert. In addition, we provide disability awareness training to staff in a range of departments.
We are a founding member of the Graduate Recruiter’s Disability Café Club which attracts and informs potential law applicants with disabilities about career opportunities in the City. We work with a number of other disability charities focused on different conditions, including Blind in Business, find out more here.
We work closely with My Plus Recruiters’ Club to attract the best talent and provide an insight into the working life and culture of the firm so people can make informed decisions before applying. Visit the website here to read some case studies written by people in the firm about life at A&O managing their disability.
If you would like to discuss any requirements in more detail, please email Charlotte.Webb@allenovery.com or telephone on +44 (0)20 3088 0000, to discuss in confidence.
Studied at Law at Westminster University
My first interaction with A&O was when I attended a workshop to introduce people to City careers. Initially I was sceptical about whether a job in the City was right for me as I have a genetic condition that means I’m subject to blackouts, severe joint pain and bone fractures. But I got talking to some people from the firm’s HR team and they reassured me that this shouldn’t deter me from applying. They were very positive and helped me to see that both the firm and I could adapt to accommodate my needs.
I’ve been given an electronic desk so that I can work standing up when I need to, and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. If I need to I can work from home, for example there have been times when I was on my way to work and unable to get a seat on the train, which can be problematic for me as standing for long periods may cause a blackout. I got off the train and called my supervisor to let them know that I was going to work from home and they were fine with it. I’ve always found the firm to be flexible when it comes to my condition.
When I started the LPC, the firm was really proactive, introducing me to occupational health and health and safety professionals to make sure that I was getting everything I needed, and also that they understood how they could help me.
Everyone has always been very supportive. When I joined A&O, everyone in my team knew about my illness so that they could help me if I ever needed it. I have just finished my 3rd seat and in my team only my trainer and my PA know about my condition. It’s certainly not seen as an issue in my work and when I have had a problem – like when I had a series of faints during my second seat – I’ve received a lot of support and kindness.
Having a disability gives you a different perspective and different perspectives are what this firm is all about. A&O has been very open-minded to disability and I think it’s important for disabled people to have the same level of open-mindedness when looking at the firm. It’s easy to discount yourself and to imagine problems that simply aren’t there. The firm is always looking for people who can bring something new – different ideas, different experiences.
I’m so glad I made the decision to apply. It’s given me so much confidence in my own abilities and I’ve learned and grown so much as a professional. The training has been incredible and I’m really looking forward to continuing that journey, through my fourth seat placement at an investment bank and then as a qualified solicitor.
Studied Law at City University, London
I chose to apply to Allen & Overy for three main reasons. Firstly, I found the firm’s culture both friendly and diverse. A&O was always present at the law fairs/recruitment events I attended across London. I was always given the opportunity to meet trainees and members of the Graduate Recruitment team. After which, I became certain I will be training within a collegiate environment. Secondly, being from Jordan, I wanted to work at a firm with a strong presence in the Middle East. A&O’s ability to handle complex transactions in the region distinguished it from others. Opening one of its first international offices in Dubai back in 1978 evidenced the firm’s pioneering presence and experience there. Finally, the Training Contract seemed to be a little more tailored than others I had looked at, and there was more scope to gain exposure to areas that really interest me. At A&O, I was able to tailor my own Training Contract to gain the exposure I want.
I have a genetic condition called Albinism, which has resulted in me being partially sighted. As a result, I need to use magnifiers and have other modifications to my desktop to support me whilst I’m working. After submitting my application for the Winter Vacation Scheme, I was invited for an interview. I disclosed the nature of my visual impairment on my application form, and specified the reasonable adjustments I require. A&O provided everything I asked for. The materials were printed in large font, and extra time was provided.
Since joining A&O, I have been well supported. Working in a fast-paced environment can be daunting at first, but learning to use the resources available, and with the right technology, I found it easy to cope. At A&O, the focus is on the quality of the work and not the speed. Initially, I had my fears that I might be taking longer to complete tasks, but with time, I was reassured that that was not the case. I never felt that anyone here regards my visual impairment as something that could stand in my way. The firm is great when it comes to me finding alternative ways of completing tasks; documents can always be accessed digitally, and so far, I have not been given a task I could not do.
I have just completed my third seat and there have been lots of highlights so far. I assisted on several multi-jurisdictional deals in Corporate, attended lots of client meetings in Banking and done interesting research in Arbitration. But for me the deal breaker has been the firm’s culture. Everyone here is so friendly – even at times of stress, people are still a pleasure to work with. You can always ask questions and get the help you need.
Associate, Banking, Financial and Regulatory Litigation
Studied a Bachelor of International Studies and a Bachelor of Laws at University of New South Wales
I worked in another firm in Sydney, Australia for three years before I began to get itchy feet and wanted to experience something new; relocating to the UK and working in a London firm was a perfect opportunity to do something new. As soon as I got to know A&O I felt at home – the firm is so down to earth and I immediately felt it was a good fit for me.
My experience as a gay man – and one who is very much out and proud – has been unbelievable. I expected the firm to be quite conservative but thats simply not been the case. I’ve felt nothing but warmth from my colleagues and completely accepted for who I am.
When I arrived here the LGBT network, A&Out, was languishing a little so I have been heavily involved in the rebranding of our network along with other members and the Diversity & Inclusion team. Some of the best advocates for change are those outside the LGBT community; if you can get them supporting LGBT and other diversity issues then you can make better progress quickly. So, I have worked closely with the network and the Diversity & Inclusion senior manager to establish a place for allies in the network, to show support for A&Out and LGBT colleagues.
We had Ben Cohen, the former England rugby star and leading campaigner for LGBT inclusion, at our A&Out launch event. We’ve also had support from Wim Dejonghe, the new senior partner, who, through a broadcast to the whole firm spoke about our global focus and commitment to our LGBT community through A&O’s global diversity strategy. It states that our LGBT colleagues should feel welcome, know that they are valued and be confident that they will not be excluded or held back in any way. Whether you identify as LGBT or not it is recognised that we are all responsible for making this happen.
Having supported the relaunch of the network, I’m now looking at ways of supporting other LGBT colleagues in our offices around the world.
The firm is a real champion of diversity and inclusion. A&O also values individuality, so when you come to work you are expected to be yourself and the culture here is supportive of that aim. A&Out raises the profile of LGBT lawyers, so that people can choose to be open about who they are when they join the firm. When entering the corporate world, as much as 40% of LGBT students don’t feel they can talk openly about who they are and that is simply not the culture here at A&O.
Our A&O Together event recently was attended by over 250 people from around the firm and everyone was given a mug carrying the message ‘I support my LGBT colleagues’. If just one of those is on a partner’s desk during an office tour it will send a powerful message to any prospective trainee that the environment here is diverse and inclusive.
Of course, this is still a law firm, and I have a job to do, so all these activities fit in around a demanding workload, but ultimately I get a lot of encouragement to drive these initiatives.
Associate, Leveraged Finance
Studied Law at Leicester University
Following my Training Contract, I qualified into Leveraged Finance, which is part of our Banking practice. Leveraged Finance helps companies, particularly Private Equity groups, to raise large volumes of cash to buy companies (amongst other things). As a trainee in this area you are more involved with ancillary documentation, for example, the documents allowing companies to enter into the loans. Now that I’m qualified, I play a more active role in leading the transactions, liaising with counsel in different jurisdictions and making sure that the lenders are comfortable with how they will be repaid – and what they can do if the transaction doesn’t go to plan further down the line.
When I first applied to A&O, I was sure to let them know that I would need some additional support due to a condition I have. I suffered from bone cancer in my teens and had to have my leg amputated. The firm have been very supportive and have been great at letting me know what they could do to support me, but letting me guide them on what I need: they never tried to impose anything on me. For example, my prosthesis needs maintenance or repair sometimes and that can take me out of the office; the firm has always been very supportive, giving me whatever time I need for this. I remember once I had an emergency appointment which came at a very busy time in our team, but the emphasis was still very much on supporting me – maybe I shouldn’t snap it in future!
A lot of firms stress the value they place on hiring people who have interesting and active lifestyles and A&O is no different in that respect. I love the outdoors and being active: I ski, play football, hike and climb. 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. The firm’s ethos is to be the best , and that encompasses being a great place to work and having a strong culture. We know that our clients (and other members of the team) value building relationships and establishing trust with people from all kinds of backgrounds and life experiences and that means we have to be diverse ourselves. It’s something the firm does really well and I’ve really appreciated that since the day I started.