Skip to main content

Diversity and inclusion

Race and ethnicity

As a global firm, our focus is to attract and retain talent from underrepresented groups, particularly at senior levels.

Our efforts in this area include our global Black Affinity Network, which brings together lawyers of Black African and Black African-Caribbean heritage from across the firm. In 2020, BAN created a network of non-BAN Freshfields colleagues, who are committed to taking practical action to support ethnic diversity and inclusion within the workplace. These representatives would be senior ambassadors for the BAN community (informally known as BANbassadors), helping to foster an inclusive environment which values ethnic diversity and galvanises support throughout the firm.

Our Asian Affinity Network in the UK and CE, and Asian/Pacific/South Asian/American Network in the US (APSAA) are also both committed to representing and serving the needs of our Asian community through solidarity, advocacy and engagement.

Launched in 2007, the firm’s Legal Outreach programme, has equipped New York high school students, from non-traditional backgrounds, with skills in writing and reasoning to empower them to achieve academic success and admission to the most elite US colleges. Members of our Black Affinity Network mentor these students as they get exposed to the culture and types of work at a corporate law firm.

We celebrate Black History Month in both the US and the UK, hosting talks and other events with a number of our clients.

The Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme has been designed to address the disproportionate under-representation in large commercial law firms and other City institutions of black men from less socially mobile backgrounds. The bespoke development programme is run by staff and volunteers from Freshfields and our clients, including Goldman Sachs, the Bank of England and Aon, and has had a significant impact on the lives of more than 720 Scholarship candidates and 124 Scholars; not all are at recruitment stage yet but of those who are, 27 have accepted training contracts with Freshfields.

We launched the Future Leaders programme to help address the under-representation of Black and ethnically diverse colleagues in leadership positions and to retain colleagues across the firm, focusing on sponsorship, coaching and training selected participants in collaboration with their sponsors. We collaborate with The Centre for Synchronous Leadership (CSL) to deliver the programme, and completed the second cohort of the programme in November of 2023. We also launched a pilot programme across our CE offices with Roots Inspire in 2022 - a leadership development platform with the mission to increase ethnic diversity in corporate leadership positions. Following the success of the pilot, we have just launched the second expanded cohort.

We are a founding signatory of The Black Talent Charter, a founding member of Legal CORE (Collaboration on Race and Ethnicity) and we have signed up to Rare’s Race Fairness Commitment in the UK. We also partner with the Black British Business Awards and organisations such as SEO (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity). We are also proud to be one of the few law firms that supported the creation and launch of the Black Equity Organisation.