Our firm’s commitment to advancing racial equality
By Susan Bright, Global Managing Partner for Diversity & Inclusion and Responsible Business, London and Bendita Cynthia Malakia, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Washington D. C.
To the leaders of corporate legal departments in the financial services industry:
Thank you for sharing the open letter to the global legal community on your shared commitment to tackling racism
and discrimination (30 September 2020). We join you in whole-heartedly denouncing discrimination in all its forms
and believe we can drive genuine change by working together. Many conversations are already underway with our
clients about how we can best collaborate and amplify our collective efforts. We will proactively continue these
discussions and are confident that we can identify further effective ways to partner with your organizations to
As a firm we are actively sharpening our focus on tackling racial discrimination, and would like to share this
summary of some of our commitments to advancing racial justice, with a focus on our work in the UK and U.S.
Further information on our global diversity and inclusion initiatives can be found here.
On taking up his role on 1 July this year our new CEO, Miguel Zaldivar (the only Latino CEO at an Amlaw 50 law
firm), announced that delivering on our commitments to diversity and inclusion is one of the firm’s five strategic
priorities. The diversity and inclusion team became a separate function, reporting directly to the CEO. Susan Bright
was also appointed as the firm’s first Global Managing Partner for Diversity & Inclusion and Responsible Business.
These are only a few of the important structural changes we are making as a firm to ensure that diversity and
inclusion are at the forefront of our business. We know that accountability is critical to achieving any aspiration
and earlier this month we announced a global diversity goal to achieve 15% minority partners by 2025 (UK and
Over recent years we have introduced a number of programs in the UK to improve outreach and access for
students from racial and ethnic minority and lower socio-economic backgrounds, both at school and at university.
This includes our partnerships with The Sutton Trust (we are signatory to the Social Mobility Compact and founding
members of PRIME and Pathways to Law); Aspiring Solicitors; and Rare (we are signatory to the Race Fairness
Commitment). Our Ladder to Law cohort currently comprises 70% (Year 12) and 79% (Year 13) racial and ethnic
minority students. We have steadily increased the number of racial and ethnic minority students in our trainee
community, achieving 30% by 2015 and continuing to achieve more than 30% every year since.
In the U.S. we have taken a number of actions to enhance our recruitment of more diverse lawyers and members
of business services, including by:
- requiring our recruiters to provide us with candidate lists that include diverse
- developing a refreshed plan for law school and lateral associate hiring recruitment that broadens
the schools we recruit from and criteria applied;
- leveraging relationships with law school faculty, administrators,
and judges to enhance our recruitment of minority law school students;
- re-evaluating our lateral partner and integration policies to ensure success for diverse partners.
Retention, development and advancement
Our focus in the UK has been informed by focus groups held in 2018 to address under-representation of partners
from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds. As a result, we have established an inclusive employee network –
Race and Ethnicity at Hogan Lovells (REAHL) in March 2020, focused on recruitment, retention, progression and
inclusion of racial and ethnic minority talent. A key initiative is an open reciprocal mentoring program matching
different races/ethnicities to share experiences and have conversations around difference. We are concentrating
on increasing the visibility of racial and ethnic minority talent at all levels, improving the race fluency of our people,
and working with external recruitment partners on providing greater diversity in shortlists for experienced hires.
In the U.S. we have many well established diversity networks focussing on racial and ethnic minorities. We are
working on retention policies and programs that align with best practice, including piloting a work allocation
program that focuses on ensuring diverse lawyers get access to meaningful work that advances their skills and
raises their profiles. Our Americas Diversity Committee continues the investment in and advancement of our
internal pipeline of diverse lawyers through leveraging a sponsorship model, with regular tracking of progress,
sharing of best practices, identification of work and sponsorship opportunities, investment in external
opportunities (such as client meetings and joint mentoring programs with clients). We are strengthening our
efforts to attract racial and ethnic minority partners and counsel, and are exploring psychometrics and
standardized evaluation to increase equity in our hiring processes. We monitor diverse lawyer utilization, pitch,
and secondment opportunities to enable equitable distribution, and are establishing mentoring circles to better
support our diverse associate talent. Our lawyers receive up to 50 hours of billable hours credit for diversity and
inclusion efforts (effective shortly), in addition to billable hour credit of up to 150 hours for pro bono work, for
which we are directing a significant proportion toward our commitment to Advancing Racial Justice.
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd our leadership publically denounced the tragic event, and we had
difficult but necessary conversations within our firm about racism and racial justice. Approximately 2,000 of our
people attended global online forums sharing experiences of racism, discrimination, and exploring ways to increase
inclusivity in our work environment. UK membership of REAHL more than doubled to over 250 members since.
Our networks have developed a wide range of anti-racism resources including articles, videos and podcasts, and
have established discussion groups. The firm hosted conversation forums with our in-house counselors and
facilitated a series of global Identity Circles to support under-represented colleagues and encourage allies to take
action. In June, we provided our people in the U.S. with a day of leave for reflection, and another to commemorate
Juneteenth, and our support of equitable access of under-represented communities to the polls means that we are
giving Election Day as a holiday in the U.S.
In the UK, we are signatories of the BiTC Race at Work Charter and were recognised in the 2019 report for our
progress in collecting race/ethnicity data through our annual Self ID campaign. In the U.S. we have achieved
Mansfield Certification Plus for the second year, ensuring that our diversity in senior leadership positions, business
development activity and lateral lawyer recruitment exceeds the industry standard. We have taken our
commitment a step further by being one of only five law firms to track diverse populations individually to ensure
that the most marginalized lawyers are supported. We received the 2019 Chambers Award U.S. for Most Inclusive
Firm for Minority Lawyers for our commitment to development, retention and advancement.
Pro bono, fundraising and community engagement
We have formally committed to devote at least 65,000 pro bono hours through to 2023 focused on breaking down
the deep-rooted systemic barriers in society that profoundly impact people of colour. We are identifying local
opportunities that enable our people to engage in this commitment through community-based volunteering.
We have been instructed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance to research Police Accountability and Safeguards on Human
Rights worldwide. The comparative law analysis is being managed by 45 pro bono volunteers across 12 offices.
The final report will guide member states on best practices in line with the UN International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The firm has pledged to match up to US$200k in donations by our people to organizations combating racial and
ethnic discrimination and injustice, including an additional US$100k pledged by individual members of our Board
and International Management Committee.
Active support of racial and ethnic minority communities during the COVID-19 pandemic is important to us. We
support financially distressed individuals to apply for public welfare benefits and during the COVID-19 crisis our
help has increased five-fold with over 60% of support required by the racial and ethnic minority community.
We recognize that there is a considerable way to go in achieving racial justice, and we look forward to continuing to
work with you to tackle racism, discrimination and bias in our industry and communities together.