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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance
Responsible Business Insights<br />

Responsible Business Insights

Working towards a sustainable future

Clifford Chance increases efforts to eliminate gendered language in legal drafting internationally

Our inclusion strategy has three pillars: change the rules, change the culture and change the lived experience.

The language we use is a powerful way of demonstrating our affirmative actions to develop and nurture a more inclusive culture. As part of our ambitions to be a force for change in our industry, Clifford Chance is undertaking a number of steps to eliminate gendered language in our legal templates – in several jurisdictions. 

Gender-neutral drafting in legal documentation has multiple benefits for equality and inclusion in our firm and across the wider industry:

  • promoting gender equality;
  • challenging unconscious assumptions about gender roles; and
  • recognising that not everyone identifies as male or female and some people are non-binary/non-gendered.

Rachel Reese from Global Butterflies, an organisation that supported the UK Governments Legal Department in putting together this Guide to Gender-Neutral Drafting document, commented: "We applaud Clifford Chance's implementation of their Global Policy on Gender Neutral Language, this demonstrates their intention to attract employees and clients from the trans and non-binary community."

We are continuously collaborating with our clients to see how we can better advance our commitment to inclusion.

The words and language we use matter greatly. They send a signal of our values and can have both a positive and negative impact on others and on our culture. Removing gendered language from our communications is a subtle but impactful way of demonstrating what we stand for, and we're delighted to see these steps taken in our firm.

What changes are we making to legal documentation?

Earlier this year, the firm announced the removal of gendered salutations from its global English language letter template. We are now expanding our efforts to create gender-neutral documents by encouraging each practice area and office to remove any gendered terms or gender specific pronouns from their templates. For example, our Global Financial Markets Group have already done some work in this area by removing "Dear Sirs" from letters and notices scheduled to template agreements.

The next step of removing any remaining gendered terms, e.g. "Chairman", is being facilitated by the deployment of a tool utilised by our Best Delivery team which is able to identify gender-specific terms in templates.