Taking Pride in our Difference by Christine Siler – Hogan Lovells

From the U.S. to Moscow to Hong Kong and everywhere in between, Hogan Lovells global Pride+ Network is driving change through improving awareness and acceptance of LGBT+ issues.

Recently I attended our Moscow office Pride+ event with Ty Cobb. For those of you that don’t know, Ty Cobb is the Director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the largest LGBTQ civil rights organisation in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. Alexey Kozlov, Co-Chair of the Moscow Pride+ Network highlighted in his welcome that Hogan Lovells purposely chose to host a meeting on LGBTQ civil rights in Russia to send a strong message that the firm stands up for equality and freedom of its people in every part of the world where we do business, including in highly challenging political and cultural environments.

The Network hosted an informal conversation with Ty, which was thought provoking and extremely interesting. He spoke about the HRC’s work ensuring safety of LGBTQ people (including refugees and immigrants all over the world) and took part in a lively discussion with our Moscow colleagues as well as those from other Hogan Lovells offices including Milan, New York, London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Madrid, amongst others, who all joined by video conference.

The event with Ty Cobb has been the first of the kind discussing LGBTQ issues in Moscow and, given a successful start, the office plans to introduce a series of similar events with high-profile speakers in the future.

Our global Pride+ Network

Our Pride+ Network aims to connect colleagues within the LGBT + community and, with the support of allies, visibly promote an inclusive working culture for all our people and clients globally, including in jurisdictions where the LGBT+ community still suffers from discrimination.  Earlier this year, we chose the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi-phobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT) to officially launch our global LGBT+ and allies network, Pride+.

The Network more specifically aims to provide a safe environment for LGBT+ colleagues to be themselves and to speak openly; raise awareness of issues faced by LGBT+ colleagues and help overcome barriers; as well as challenge inappropriate behaviours, language, stereotypes, and assumptions.

We set out with an initial goal of inspiring 10% of our colleagues to join the network, and in less than six months we far exceeded that.  We currently have over 1270 members around the world which we’re extremely proud of. I feel we were able to expand at this pace as our leadership really drive a diverse and inclusive culture and have embedded diversity as a core business value. They appreciate that diversity of people and thought results in better solutions for our clients, and create a culture that is reflective of our client base and the communities in which we operate.

Through the launch of Pride+ we have seen the creation and expansion of a number of existing internal LGBT+ networks around the world. These networks host a range of internally and externally focused events and activities throughout the year to build the profile of the Network and Hogan Lovells as a proud LGBT+ inclusive employer.

Our Pride+ Network co-chair in Asia is a strong LGBT+ ally and he works hard in his region to raise awareness and ensure other colleagues are engaged and understand the impact of being an ally and creating an inclusive environment for everyone. As such, they hosted a “how to be an ally” event with Pink Alliance and Planet Ally in Asia, and also incorporated a Pride+ breakfast into the schedule at our Asia Pacific and Middle East regional partners Conference. This sent a strong signal that the Network and inclusive leadership plays a significant role in our business.

Our Continental European colleagues were also really quick to engage in the Pride+ Network launch, with 14 regional offices and over 500 colleagues participating. Since May along with the Ty Cobb event, we have also hosted some really exciting, entertainment focused, events like rainbow cupcake coffee breaks for all colleagues in Amsterdam, movies nights in Moscow and a role play performance in our Paris office about everyday situations faced by LGBT+ individuals. These have been a good way of attracting attention, enabling us to spread the word about Pride+ and sign up more allies.

In the UK, we chose to focus on transinclusion, having recognised this as increasingly prevalent in our society. Our Pride Network invited Juno Roche, a leading transgender rights campaigner, to be part of its “Different Perspectives” speaker series. The series encouraged our employees to openly discuss transinclusion. Following the success of Juno’s first visit, she was invited back to host a Q&A session with our people team, which informed the development of a Gender Transitioning in the Workplace Policy. Appreciating the importance of supporting this policy and bringing it to life by providing transinclusion training, we worked with Rachel Reese, of transinclusion consultancy Global Butterflies and a trans representative on the Law Society’s LGBT committee, to deliver bespoke transinclusion training. This training proved to be highly successful, with very strong and positive post training feedback from attendees.

Our bespoke trans training and policy offer advice on communicating to our people and clients – both in terms of educating and employing appropriate language – and cover practical considerations; as well as provide points of contact that can provide confidential support and answer questions. The policy outlines guidelines for transitioning gender in the workplace, including information on the resources and guidance the firm can offer.

In addition to our transinclusion focus, we have continued to host LGBT+ events in the UK; we had over 50 colleagues attend an event with the very inspirational Ben Smith, who ran 401 marathons in 401 days to raise awareness of homophobic bullying.

We also supported long standing pro bono client, Human Dignity Trust, in acquiring a copy of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 signed by David Cameron, Prime Minster when the Act was introduced. This is on display in our London client reception, another visible symbol to colleagues and clients alike that we are committed to LGBT+ equality.

The impact

The global network has created an inclusive community which has enabled many of my colleagues to bring their whole self to work and feel valued. The Pride+ network provides a global platform to educate on LGBT+ issues, showcase role models and allies who actively show their solidarity with LGBT+ colleagues, as well as visibly support our LGBT+ colleagues to feel safe in speaking openly. In countries where there are more legal challenges, the role of an ally is even more significant.

I am an LGBT+ ally, and Co-Chair of our global Pride+ Network. I am passionate about this simple idea:  everyone should have equal rights. Come on! Let’s make it happen!

Christine Siler
Co-chair of Pride+ Network
Hogan Lovells

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