Targeted initiatives for gender
The 30% Club launched in 2010 and is a group of business leaders who believe gender balance on boards encourages improved leadership and governance and contributes to better all-round performance.
When the 30% Club began in the UK, its goal was to achieve a minimum of 30 per cent women on FTSE 100 boards and this ambition was realised in September 2018. Now global, the 30% Club runs a number of very specific and targeted initiatives that look to broaden the pipeline of women at all levels of organisations. The 30% Club’s ethos is to bring about meaningful and sustainable change through collaborative, concerted business-led efforts.
As Avril Martindale, one of our partners and a UK Ambassador for the 30% Club, says: “Our involvement with the 30% Club globally is an incredibly important part of our gender diversity strategy; the collaborations it enables between ourselves and both our clients and others within the professional services sector is resulting in tangible change, not just within Freshfields but beyond, and demonstrates what we think responsible business means in action.”
"Our involvement with the 30% Club is an incredibly important part of our gender diversity strategy."
The firm’s relationship with the 30% Club began in 2012 when the Professional Services Firms Initiative was launched and we became a founding member. Along with other law, accounting and consulting firms, we participated in research into gender balance at senior levels in the sector titled Shifting the Needle.
Freshfields has been involved in the 30% Club Cross-Company Mentoring Scheme in the UK since its pilot in 2013. The UK programme is delivered by Women Ahead, a social impact organisation working to create an inclusive society in which individuals and organisations can be at their best. The Scheme offers cross-company, cross-sector mentoring to mid-career women. Since the official launch the Scheme has continued to go from strength to strength and more than 50 of our women have been mentored by leaders from other organisations, with more than 30 Freshfields partners and business services leaders, both male and female, mentoring women from outside the firm.
The Scheme complements our various internal mentoring and reverse mentoring programmes as it provides our women professionals with a different perspective on the career challenges they face in a neutral and confidential environment. For our senior mentors, many of whom have volunteered to take part for multiple years, the insights into experience of women at other organisations has helped inform their views on improving gender diversity within the firm.
As the 30% Club’s approach has spread globally, Freshfields has maintained a close relationship and continued to support its efforts.
“We are very pleased with the ongoing engagement and support that we have had from Freshfields.”
Global Co-Chair, 30% Club
In March 2013 the 30% Club launched in Hong Kong, and Teresa Ko, Partner and China Chairman at Freshfields, is a founding member, forming part of the steering committee. She has also been engaged in the Regulatory Engagement working group, which focuses on informal engagement and discussion with Hong Kong’s various regulatory bodies, including HKEx and its Listing Committee as well as the Securities and Futures Commission, to explore the best ways to increase the proportion of women on boards in Hong Kong. In November 2018 the 30% Club Hong Kong and The Women’s Foundation released a video ‘Flipping the Script’ featuring Teresa to highlight this priority.
We were also involved in the launch of the 30% Club in Italy.