Linklaters launches HeForShe initiative to accelerate progress towards gender equality

  • Linklaters launches HeForShe campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day
  • Michael Kent, Linklaters’ Global Head of Finance and Projects, is the initiative’s sponsor

On International Women’s Day, Linklaters announces the launch of the HeForShe initiative. Male leaders and partners will be joining the UN’s movement, making bold commitments to achieve gender equality in the firm’s global network.

The partners join a cohort of male global champions determined to ensure everyone at Linklaters can reach their full potential.

Michael Kent, Global Head of Finance & Projects at Linklaters, says:

“HeForShe is a global movement led by the UN, recognising the role that men in society have at changing gender imbalance. Feedback from women in our firm confirms that more men need to be actively part of the conversation to make change happen. Only by engaging with men, can we make further, and meaningful, progress.”

The main aims of the HeForShe initiative are to:

  • Engage men to become more aware of the opportunities and responsibilities of helping the firm create an inclusive culture where all our people have equal opportunities. 
  • Empower men to act on issues raised by a lack of gender equality – for example, calling out bias or inappropriate behaviour and using inclusive behaviours/language. 
  • Celebrate men who champion gender equality.

Michael says: "For International Women’s Day, we’ve asked our colleagues why they are HeForShe supporters and what they are personally committed to doing. We want them to be visible and to inspire others to learn more and commit to being part of the change that we need in society and our business.

There are many examples of commitment for change, from sponsoring or mentoring women, to ensuring diverse pitch teams and challenging personal or colleagues’ unconscious biases or behaviours.”

Examples of actions male global leaders and partners are committing to include:


Michael Kent, Global Head of Finance & Projects, London

I’m a HeforShe Supporter because I believe in equality and fairness and I want to see more women partners in the firm. For this to happen I need to better understand the barriers to this and what actions we all, and in particular other men and I, should take.

I’m committed to having difficult conversations about diversity in the firm – they are essential for progress. I’m also committed to trying new things in Finance and Projects, like a mentoring programme we’ve just launched.

 

Gavin Lewis, Dispute Resolution partner, Hong Kong

I support HeforShe because I think that people, whether male or female, shouldn’t be restricted by gender stereotypes. 

I’m going to look out for instances when female colleagues may need extra support to build client relationships or develop business opportunities and I’m going to do what I can to help them.

 

Neil Dixon, Capital Markets partner, London

I’m a HeForShe supporter because achieving gender equality is a “must have” for our generation and the Firm. I don't want to tell the next generation that we could have done much more but were just too busy, embarrassed or naive to confront it head on. I commit to being a career mentor for one or more female colleagues. I also commit to challenging my own views and those of the people around me in day-to-day conversations which impact gender equality.

 

Matthew Axelrod, Dispute Resolution partner, Washington

I am a HeForShe supporter because our firm is strongest when everyone is supported and able to thrive. I will work to ensure that we are intentional about diversity when pitching clients and staffing matters, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it leads to better results.

Michael says: “Our main aim is to get people thinking about the practical things they could do. We’ll check in with those who make commitments to see how they are doing and whether we can support them. For International Women’s Day, we will have a whole range of activities focussing on HeForShe, including sharing everyone’s commitments on our intranet as a way of helping others to think about what action they might take. It’s creating an environment where everyone has a role to play in moving the firm forward.

The HeForShe initiative is part of a broader programme of activity at Linklaters to address gender equality and Diversity & Inclusion, including:

  • Mentoring: such as formal mentoring programmes through the Women’s Leadership Programme and the Global Talent Programme. Linklaters is also part of the 30% Club cross company mentoring scheme where senior people in the firm mentor women from another organisation. Linklaters recently launched a reverse mentoring scheme with the aim of giving senior leaders an opportunity to build their awareness and understanding of different people’s perspectives and experiences.
  • Training and Development: Women’s Partner Programme, Women’s Leadership programme for Managing Associates and a new career coaching programme for Associates. 
  • Networking: Linkup is an initiative launched by Women@Linklaters UK network, a new internal coffee club designed to help people meet more of their colleagues, providing a place for new ideas, innovation and fresh perspectives to develop. 
  • Working environment: embedding agile working in the firm’s culture, giving everyone more control over when, how and where they work, thus helping people to balance work and personal commitments. Provide one to one coaching for working families and providing family friendly benefits.

Michael says: “When you take a step back and reflect on the conversations you have with people across the firm, at all levels, I feel encouraged. We know we can’t make change happen overnight but with the range of activity taking place right around the firm globally, and increasing dialogue, I’m confident that things will move forward.”