Clifford Chance has launched a scheme which gives staff the opportunity to show their support for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender colleagues.

The initiative, which is designed to foster a more inclusive culture for LGBT people at the firm, involves staff volunteering to become "Arcus Allies". That's pronounced with a hard "c" by the way. And  in an impressive gesture of intent, Clifford Chance's entire Executive Leadership Group, including Managing Partner Matthew Layton, signed up as Arcus Allies ("Rainbow Pals" in Latin) at its launch.

The firm said that it expects AA members to be proactive, with examples of their duties including speaking up to demonstrate support for LGBT equality and asking LGBT colleagues about their lives.

    How it might look

The partner spearheading Arcus, Naind Singh, suggested that it was also good for business. "We know that performance improves when someone can be themselves", said Singh, "rather than using energy to cover up their background". Because two units spent trying to recall the name of last night's fictional straight date is two units wasted.

Clifford Chance is following in the footsteps of Freshfields, which launched its own LGBT support network, Halo Champions, last year. So well done to both firms for making the most thoughtful members of their staff sound like live action role-players who dress up as elves and fight with foam swords.
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 25 September 15 10:15

Why do firms have to make such a performance of being LGBT-friendly? Why can't they just be, y'know, LGBT-friendly?

Anonymous 25 September 15 11:02

""Arcus Allies". That's pronounced with a hard "c" by the way."

Personally I think that was uncalled for.

Anonymous 25 September 15 11:04

Will the Clifford Chance partners in the firm's Riyadh office "be proactive...including speaking up to demonstrate support for LGBT equality and asking LGBT colleagues about their lives"?

Anonymous 25 September 15 13:19

So ROF you request that your readers 'keep it nice'.....while you post casual homophobic comments....not clever and not 'quite funny, actually ' as suggested below.....just quite pathetic, actually. Any chance of an apology?

Anonymous 25 September 15 14:07

It is clearly not remotely homophobic, don't be so ridiculously touchy.

And it is quite funny.

Anonymous 25 September 15 16:10

"Arcus Allies". That's pronounced with a hard "c" by the way.

Hahaha! Cos otherwise it'd be ARSE-US! Which sounds a bit gay! And this is an article about being gay! That is LITERALLY BRILLIANT

Anonymous 25 September 15 17:48

Agree with the first poster. Our firm has recently launched a program to encourage straight allies to come forward and be counted as supporting our LGBT colleagues. I find the whole concept rather bemusing and insulting, as there's an odd undertone of "if you don't positively identify yourself as not being a bigot, then you probably are one...".

I have worked in several top 50 firms, with gay and lesbian colleagues, and I have never heard a bad word from any of my colleagues, straight or gay, about anyone else's sexual orientation. It just wouldn't be cool, and frankly nobody these days cares that much. Nor am I aware that any of my gay or lesbian colleagues have felt threatened, uncomfortable or in any particular need to seek additional support within the workplace. I know that my anecdotal experience does not amount to much (and maybe I'm just lucky to have worked repeatedly where there's a low wanker quotient) but this sort of thing smacks to me of being an unnecessary exercise - and worse, unnecessarily emphasises difference (albeit in the name of exclusivity) when it wouldn't otherwise be an item of discussion in the workplace at all!

I'd be interested to know if any LGBT lawyers feel differently, though.

Anonymous 25 September 15 17:53

The tone of this article is all shades of wrong. I think the writer needs to show it to some of his/her LGBT friends and seek to understand why it has caused offence amongst so many LGBT colleagues in law firms. Shame on you ROFR

Anonymous 25 September 15 17:57

Whoops in previous comment, wrote "exclusivity" instead of "inclusivity". Bad lawyer. Bad, bad lawyer.

Anonymous 25 September 15 19:43

How is its tone wrong? It laughs at the name of the group, not what the group is or represents.

Anonymous 25 September 15 23:40

Speaking as a live action role-player who dresses up as an elf and fights with foam swords, I'd love to portray Sir Clifford de Chance, of the Arcus Allies, the Halo Champion. It'd be awesome.

Roll On Friday 26 September 15 09:47

Why on earth to people need a support network at the office based on where they like to place their reproductive organs in their spare time?


Anonymous 26 September 15 13:18

Perhaps because when they talk about their nuanced and varied lives as people who happen to be LGBT some people can only think of them in terms of how they have sex.

Anonymous 26 September 15 14:37

Programs like these are actually incredibly useful for LGBT individuals to know who isn't going to freak out or be weird if you just happen to mention your partner etc. You'd be surprised at how many people get uncomfortable and don't know how to respond apart from awkwardly saying "oh I have lots of friends who are gay".

Anonymous 29 September 15 15:30

Does Clifford Chance also refer to the participants as "AA members"? That won't be confusing at all...

Contrary to its reputation as a billing machine, Dechert launched an LGBT Allies programme this summer, also with big names involved. For young straight lawyers, another person's sexual orientation may seem like a non-issue, but when you're gay and your work is assigned by older people who unconsciously expect everyone to be straight, you become aware of every pronoun. Maybe they are a bit silly but these diversity initiatives encourage us to think of ourselves as a workplace community.

Anonymous 29 September 15 16:06

The commenter at 16.48 on the 25th is naïve to say the least. Most people don't care about orientation, but those that do often really make it obvious, and difficult for colleagues who don't fit their "normal".

I could never understand why a really good colleague was forever ignored for promotions, secondments and other opportunities. happened to be on a "lad" type client evening with his immediate boss who proceeded to make it clear that anything other than straight was not ok, and he wouldn't promote/get close to anyone not in his image.

Suddenly it all made sense. Really tough for my friend as literally nothing he could do about that except change teams/firms