Clifford Chance highest new entrant as 12 firms make Stonewall top 100

A total of 12 firms, including new entrants Clifford Chance, Dentons, DWF and Reed Smith, feature in equality charity Stonewall’s annual top 100 gay-friendly employers’ list.

Clifford Chance is the highest new entry on the list, breaking straight into the top 10. Pinsent Masons is this year’s top-ranked law firm in fifth, up from joint ninth last year.

This year’s results mark the best-ever showing for the legal sector in the list, which recognises the best employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) staff. In 2014 and 2015 10 firms made the top 100.

Simmons & Simmons was again named as a Stonewall Star Performer after consistently featuring in the rankings. As an ‘graduate’ from the top 100, Simmons is now in a position of acting as a role model and mentor to other organisations.

Several firms feature in the list for the first time this year. DWF was ranked 56th, with Reed Smith in 72nd place and Dentons entering at 97th.

Meanwhile several more have maintained their record of consistently appearing in the rankings. Norton Rose Fulbright climbed a massive 53 places to 22nd, with Herbert Smith Freehills slipping from 22nd in 2015 to 25th this year.

Baker & McKenzie, at eleventh, and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, in seventeenth, join them in the top 25.

Stonewall named Bakers’ diversity and inclusion manager Justine Thompson as Ally of the Year. She said the firm had “taken an active stance” on LGBT equality and inclusion and its network of allies “had a huge role to play in that”.

Hogan Lovells, CMS Cameron McKenna and Eversheds are also listed in the top 100, although all saw their rankings slip from the previous year.

Stuart Mason, who co-chairs Clifford Chance’s LGBT network Arcus, said the network had reviewed what it was doing after he and fellow chair Nathan Cripps took over in November 2014.

“We wanted to take a good hard look at everything the network does and can achieve,” Mason said.

As a result Arcus broadened its scope in an attempt to engage more and different groups both within and outside the firm. Mason said LGBT diversity had become part of the graduate recruitment team’s strategy and a global ‘allies’ programme had been endorsed by Clifford Chance’s executive leadership, who all signed up to be allies.

“With clients we’ve been trying to work very closely with other LGBT groups in our client businesses and within the legal sector to enhance diversity issues,” added Mason.

He said Clifford Chance had submitted for the rankings previously, but not in 2015, and that the firm found the process valuable as an opportunity to look at what competitors and clients were doing.

Pinsents’ diversity steering group chair David Isaac praised the work of the firm’s LGBT staff and straight allies. He added that it was “especially gratifying” that the legal sector had made progress on LGBT equality.

The inclusion of 12 firms in this year’s list is a significant step forward from a decade ago, when the top 100 index launched with no law firms named.

The annual ranking is compiled from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, a benchmarking tool used by employers to create inclusive workplaces.

MI5 was named as the top employer in the rankings, ahead of Lloyds Banking Group in second place.

Along with Linklaters, index members CMS, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells and Pinsent Masons were all identified by The Lawyer as Diversity Champions in our first-ever Diversity Audit last year for their work driving diversity and inclusion.

Law firms in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers rankings 2016

Firm Placing 2016 Placing 2015 Placing 2014
Pinsent Masons 5 =9 =45
Clifford Chance 9 NA NA
Baker & McKenzie 11 6 19
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 17 =9 =66
Norton Rose Fulbright 22 75 =66
Herbert Smith Freehills 25 22 =30
Hogan Lovells 57 48 NA
Reed Smith 72 NA NA
CMS Cameron McKenna 80 40 =30
Eversheds 86 67 =45
Dentons 97 NA NA

Source: Stonewall