HSF sets bolder gender diversity target

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Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has set even bolder goals as it ramps up its effort for greater gender diversity across its global network.

The firm is now aiming to have women be 35% of its global partnership by 2023. It said that by 1 May of that year, the proportion should be achieved among partners and leaders.

Five years ago, the firm said that it wanted its global partnership to be 30% women by this year. Via its latest promotion round, the firm’s partnership became 26% women. In Australia, four of the firm’s six newest partners are women. It also recently elevated several lawyers to executive counsel, with four of the six being women.

Despite falling short of the earlier target, HSF said that it has seen the fruits of setting lofty goals.

“I am very proud to say that the number of women in our partnership has increased from 81 to 124 in the five years since we set the original targets. The results show that we have had real success in highlighting and addressing the issue of gender diversity in our partnership pipeline and in the partnership, in a way which was not previously the case,” said Mark Rigotti, HSF chief executive.

“As a firm we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of continuously pushing for better gender diversity. Targets should be aspirational and set to stretch and drive significant change. I believe our new higher target of 35% will do just that and keep the momentum going,” he said.

"Clients also demand to experience diverse partnerships, we are listening to this and making progress. We are working to create a workforce that demonstrates to all would-be lawyers and those rising up the ranks that there is no glass ceiling.”

Alison Brown, the global head of the firm’s employment, pensions, and incentives group and the chair of the firm’s global diversity and inclusion group, said that she has seen “a real step change” in how HSF approached gender diversity in the five years since it initially set gender diversity targets.

“It has enabled us to examine everything we do and find ways to improve the initiatives already in place, to help us achieve better gender diversity.  It has also opened up the gender conversation to the wider firm and ensures everyone is taking ownership of the issue and striving for ways to achieve our targets, from across the whole business,” she said.