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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance
Responsible Business Insights<br />

Responsible Business Insights

Acting responsibly

Clifford Chance makes progress to improve social inclusion and access to the legal sector in the UK

Clifford Chance has climbed from 37th to 29th place in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2022 - the leading authority on employer-led social mobility in the UK.

At Clifford Chance we see inclusion as a core value of the firm and we believe that everyone, regardless of their background, should have an equal opportunity to succeed within our firm and the legal sector. We are proud to have ranked 29th place in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2022, a climb from 37th place in our previous submission in 2019. This highlights our progress towards making social inclusion an integral, everyday part of our firm.

Sam Muturi, UK Inclusion Advisor, says: "The employer index submission was one of the first projects I took on when I joined the firm in March 2022. Social Inclusion is an issue close to my heart, so I was so proud to see the range of initiatives that exist across the firm to improve access to the legal profession and proactively reach out to communities that are underrepresented within the firm. I was even more inspired by the passion and enthusiasm displayed by my colleagues in the graduate recruitment and community outreach teams who have dedicated themselves to creating opportunities for young people across the UK and beyond ".

Our social inclusion strategy has traditionally focused on community outreach and working with young people, because we recognise that people's early experiences and access to opportunities whilst they are in education has a profound impact on which careers they have access to and their progression within the workplace. Clifford Chance was one of the founding members of PRIME in 2011, leading to the development of our award-winning ACCESS programme which offers students from low socioeconomic backgrounds a range of developmental support including work experience, mentoring, tutoring, and coaching.

We also have a well-established Raising Aspirations initiative where we host education days to help young people to understand the career possibilities available to them and the skills and qualifications involved. In recent years we have expanded these initiatives using the Covid-19 pandemic as a catalyst to make our activities open access and available online with the aim of further democratising access to the legal sector. This has enabled us to provide meaningful development opportunities such as our Global Virtual Internships and engage in Community Outreach programmes across the UK that were previously restricted by resource constraints and geographical boundaries.

Cathy Jones, Head of Community Outreach, says: "Connecting with schools that would otherwise not be able to visit us in-person from places like Sunderland, Blackpool, Truro or Stoke-on-Trent is a potential game-changer for some of our most disadvantaged young people. Even better, these locations are often suggested by new joiners from those towns whose schools, due to location or lack of resources, don't have access to visits to businesses like ours. These former pupils volunteer to talk to the students, inspiring curiosity and interest in careers which otherwise may not have been within their purview ."

Toby Horner, Early Talent Acquisition Manager, UK, says: "It's important that we demystify what a career in law could look like for a wider talent pool who may never have otherwise considered the profession. We are always looking for different ways to connect with people and we are really proud to have greatly extended our reach with our virtual internships achieving over 110,000 enrolments globally since 2020 ".

The legal sector has made important progress in diversifying access to the profession, however much less focus has been committed to exploring progression once in the profession. As part of our focus on social inclusion, Clifford Chance has partnered with a number of organisations to research whether, and how, socio-economic background affects entry and progression through the legal sector.

An example of this is our partnership with The Bridge Group where we sponsored research looking at admissions to selective UK law schools, participated in the Bridge Group's 2018 report into Socio-economic Background and Early Career Progression in the Law, and contributed to the Bridge Group's 2020 report to understand the role of socio-economic background in progression to partnership.

Alongside our externally-focused activities we have also been working to better understand social diversity across all levels of our firm and be in a position where we can report our class pay gap, alongside our established gender, LGBT+, ethnicity and disability pay gap data. Earlier this year we published our Pay Gap Report 2021, where we have shared our Social Mobility pay gap data for the first time. In addition, we have also created a colleague-led Social Inclusion Action Group, to raise awareness of issues relating to social mobility, engage our people, and produce targeted initiatives to address imbalances and dismantle the barriers that may prevent people from succeeding at our firm.

We will use the feedback from our Social Mobility Employer Index submission to guide and drive further action and investment in Social Inclusion within and outside the firm, for the benefit of our colleagues and communities across the UK.