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Freshfields and Stonewall

Creating real change for LGBTQ+ communities

Stonewall is Europe’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) equality. Stonewall works with individuals and organisations to help them understand how they can make a difference for LGBTQ+ people at work, at home and in their communities.

Stonewall campaigns in the UK and internationally to eliminate homophobia and biphobia and transphobia in communities, and empower LGBTQ+ people and their allies to be role models where they live, work, shop, socialise or pray.

Freshfields is a founding partner of Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champions programme, a best practice forum for global organisations that are committed to LGBTQ+ equality across the world.

LGBTQ+ rights are important to us and Stonewall’s guidance has helped us to grow Halo, our global LGBTQ+ network, into one of the firm’s largest employee networks with more than 100 members across 20 of our 29 offices. Drawing again on Stonewall’s experience of allies’ programmes, in 2014 we launched our Halo Champions network for staff who do not identify as LGBTQ+, and who support and promote the equality of their LGBTQ+ colleagues. We now have more than 400 Halo Champions globally.

Stonewall has recognised the significance of the firm’s Halo and Halo Champions initiatives, and Freshfields engages with Stonewall’s Global Workplace Equality Index.

Freshfields was the first Magic Circle firm to enter the top 100 of the UK Workplace Equality Index in 2014 and featured as a Top Global Employer in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. In 2022, we also achieved a Special Recognition Award for the firm’s LGBTQ+ pro bono efforts. Senior Partner Georgia Dawson received the 2019 Global Senior Champion Award – only a single person each year can hold this prestigious accolade.

Our recognition as a Top Global Employer by Stonewall is particularly important. As a global organisation we operate in some regions that are more challenging from the perspective of LGBTQ+ equality but we are committed to giving the same level of support to our LGBTQ+ colleagues wherever they are.

As the initiatives we undertake in relation to LGBTQ+ at the firm evolve, we continue to look for new ways to collaborate with Stonewall. The Halo network regularly holds a conference, bringing together members from across the firm. At its most recent conference in Brussels, Champions and HALO members from across Continental Europe gathered.

Looking to the future, in addition to the work we do for our own LGBTQ+ staff, we believe that firms such as ours can play an important role in creating real change in the wider community.

We have used our global reach and legal expertise previously to make a submission to the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBTQ+ Rights creating a report on recommendations that the UK government, businesses and NGOs can take to enhance LGBTQ+ rights worldwide, and are proud to work with a number of other organisations tackling LGBTQ+ rights globally on a pro bono basis. We are particularly proud of our pro bono work on Stonewall Global Workplace briefings which you can read more about here.