Freshfields targets 40% female global leadership by 2023

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Diversity commitment follows appointment of first female senior partner

Magic circle law firm Freshfields is targeting a global leadership team of at least 40% women as part new five-year diversity action plan, it announced today.

The outfit says it wants “all key global leadership functions” to be occupied by at least 40% women, 40% men and 20% men, women or non-binary people by 2023.

Meanwhile, the firm hopes global partner promotions will be at least 40% women and 40% men, and 20% men, women or non-binary by 2026. Our Firms Most List shows women currently make up 25% of the firm’s UK partners.

It has set out new race and ethnicity targets too, with the firm looking to double the number of black associates within its ranks by 2026. At things stands, 5% of its UK partners are black or from minority ethnic backgrounds. The firm will also have location specific race and ethnicity goals.

Also included was an LGBTQ+ global partnership target of at least 5%, again by 2026.

Georgia Dawson, Freshfields’ senior partner and the first ever woman to lead a magic circle law firm, commented:

“Creating an inclusive environment at Freshfields, where diversity of thought is valued, and people feel they belong and can thrive is central to making us a stronger firm and delivering better outcomes for clients. This has been a focus for us for some time, and we are proud of the progress we have made, but we need to go much further. This includes tracking our progress against ambitious targets to increase the pace of change and embedding commitments across the firm so that everyone understands the role they play.”

Freshfields joins a number City firms who have similarly pledged to improve diversity and inclusion across their workforces.

Fellow magic circle player Clifford Chance is aiming to achieve a 40% female partnership globally by 2030, while Linklaters has set a series of “aspirational” diversity targets of its own: 15% black and under-represented minority ethnic partners both in the UK and US by 2025, and five times as many black partners globally by 2027. Other firms to set similar targets include Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills and Hogan Lovells.



Diversity at all costs is the new mantra then.



Setting targets is easy, and is washes management’s hands of public responsibility when they don’t reach it as they can say “well we did everything we can, we set a target! We will have to look into why we’re struggling to meet it.” They then do an internal audit that will continue for eternity. It’s just more half steps to satisfy the diversity and inclusion requirements for client panels.

For example, it does nothing to address the toxic attitudes women face with regards to the personal decision to pursue their career advancement over traditional family roles, whether it’s a mother choosing to work 12-18 hours a day and be as miserable as the men chasing partnership, or deciding not to have kids in the first place without the expectation of being quizzed on such choices. Everyone is equally entitled to have 2 heart attacks and 3 divorces before their 45th birthday without being scrutinized.


lol okay Georgina

The 40% women target is only for the most senior of partners who are also involved in management. Not very ambitious when we’re literally talking about a handful of roles lol.



Woke quotas never translate into real-world success.


Ok boomer

There’s a lot of research that says otherwise.



If you actually do some research you’ll see the exact opposite is true. Companies that have increased their headcount for women at the more senior end have proven to be far more profitable.


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