Diversity is a subject that has been a priority for both Andrew Ballheimer and Wim Dejonghe since taking over the leadership of A&O in 2016. As Dejonghe comments, “You can look at diversity in two ways. You can see it as the right thing to do… but if that argument doesn’t work for you then there are compelling business reasons.”
It has been widely reported that businesses that are ethnically diverse are likely to have higher profitability rates. The same goes for gender diversity. More diverse organisations tend to make better-informed decisions, create superior solutions for their customers or clients and attract the best talent.
At the highest levels of the legal industry, even in the most international firms, people from minority backgrounds are under-represented. Movement on this issue has been slow, but Allen & Overy – like many firms – is trying to make faster progress. Last year, senior associate Guled Yusuf took part in a series of interviews with colleagues from A&O’s BAME network in the UK.
The interviews were the start of more open and candid dialogue about race and ethnicity at A&O, supported by the launch of the BAME network and the start of reporting their ethnicity pay gap in the UK (becoming the first law firm to do so). This was an important exercise in order to understand the complex issues and barriers that exist for people within each country, and to highlight any common factors between them all. View Yusuf’s findings here.