Six top law firms in the U.K., including Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May and Herbert Smith Freehills, have helped launch a Black civil rights organisation in the U.K.
Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Ashurst complete the legal line-up of firms who helped develop and launch the Black Equity Organistion (BEO), which launched on Monday.
BEO is a national and independent civil rights group which will “advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain”, a statement by the group on Tuesday said. Founders include McKinsey & Company senior partner Dame Vivian Hunt and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy MP.
The law firms provided strategic, financial and advisory support for the group, on a pro bono basis, the statement added.
The BEO will focus on six key tenets, which are: economic empowerment and equity of opportunity, education, justice, immigration and rights, culture, awareness and respect, health, wellness and care and housing and community.
Nicole Williams, counsel and global co-head of inclusion, diversity and belonging at Ashurst said the BEO is the “first and only organisation operating at scale to dismantle systemic racism affecting Black communities in the U.K.” and will be ‘key in progressing diversity and removing barriers”.
This is not the first example of elite law firms banding together to move the dial on D&I issues. In October 2021, A&O Clifford Chance, Slaughter and May and several other top law firms formed a group called Legal CORE to improve retention and progression for Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals within the legal sector.
In recent years, several U.K. law firms have introduced targets for the ethnicity make up of their lawyer and partner ranks, but pressure remains on the industry to do more in the D&I space. For example, general counsel have been called on to “fire firms” that don’t commit strongly enough to improving D&I.