Case study

Think, Act, Report: Hogan Lovells

The retention and advancement of women to partnership and management positions.


In 2012 we developed a Global Diversity Plan focused on the development and retention of talented female lawyers, which is a key strategic priority for the firm. For the first time we have articulated clear, measurable global and local diversity activities to tackle barriers to progress for our women. We have set out objectives and targets for women partner numbers and women in management roles and specific measurable time-bound steps required to achieve those.

All of our key management bodies and each of our Regional and Office Managing Partners are accountable for the progress made against the Plan’s objectives, and in order to take forward its local delivery, each International office now has a partner-level Diversity Champion.

Issue to be Resolved

We know we offer a working environment that is attractive to aspiring female lawyers. We maintain a broadly even split of male/female trainees, associates and senior associates. However, monitoring of our diversity statistics tells us that women do not reach partnership at the same rates as men. Currently 23% of our partners in London are women. Whilst this sits us comfortably against our competitors, it is not good enough.

We identified the need to focus on the progress of women to partnership and management positions within the firm, and to do so in such a way as to ensure support and agreement with this strategic agenda at the highest levels of the organisation.

Action Taken

In 2012 our Global Diversity Plan was endorsed by the firm’s International Management Committee and Board. The Plan set a public target for reaching at least 25% female partnership by 2017, 30% by 2022 and 30% of women in management by 2015. Transparency and public reporting is an important element of the firm’s Global Diversity Plan, which has strong and sincere senior support. This Plan commits the global firm to support the progression of women and improve the retention and advancement of other diverse groups.

Primary responsibility for delivering the diversity agenda rests with Office Managing Partners and their nominated partner level diversity champions. Regional Managing Partners are responsible for overseeing this.

Achievements so far

Hogan Lovells has already achieved its 2015 target of 30% women in management positions, and feedback from female candidates shows we are considered as an employer of choice for women.

The targets have also focused attention on the partner pipeline, retention of women and improved methodology in the succession planning of our talent. In particular, we have noted an increase in the number of female candidates being put forward for our leadership programme. In 2013, 46 women took part compared to 39 women in 2012.

We have also re-invigorated our flexible working policy with a noted increase in discussions with employees about flexible working options, and most recently set up a Global Agile Working Group with the aim of considering how we can promote agile working as an acceptable and positive way of working.

We have seen increased participation in the Women’s Network. At a recent International Women’s Day event we had over 150 women attend, which is over double the normal attendance rate.

Hogan Lovells has also received positive attention from clients winning major client work on the basis of its commitment to gender diversity. The public commitment to our gender diversity goals played a key part in this.

Reporting on Progress and Current Focus

We report bi-annually to the firm’s International Management Committee and Board on our progress against the objectives set out in the Plan. The global gender targets enable us to measure our progress and have helped us to focus our attention on activities which we feel will support our strategic objectives. Our current focus is on:

  • Unconscious Bias Training - conducting mandatory unconscious bias training for all partners across the global firm, focusing on the impact of bias on decision making and other organisational behaviours.

  • Agile Working - a global group of partners and senior support staff has been set up to explore the current challenges of flexible and remote working. The overall intention is to devise a set of principles to encourage a culture which supports agile working as an acceptable method of working.

  • Talent Management - reviewing our current performance management processes and ensuring we track and provide effective support and encouragement to enable our key talent to progress within the firm.

  • Attraction - to work with recruiters to attract senior women and those from other underrepresented groups.

Published 4 November 2014