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11 March 2021

Linklaters becomes first magic circle firm to support Afro hairstyle campaign

Firm adopts UK's 'Halo Code' to end hair discrimination for black employees in the workplace

By Ben Edwards

Profile portrait of a serious young woman with big yellow earrings and afro hair wrapped with head wrap scarf

CarlosDavid; Shutterstock

Linklaters has become the first magic circle firm to adopt the Halo Code, a UK campaign to end hair discrimination for black employees.

The Halo Code – which was developed by the Halo Collective – champions and protects the rights of individuals to wear all Afro hairstyles in the workplace without fear of being penalised or judged. Linklaters says it is actively working to change perceptions of Black hair, with the code set to be embedded into the firm’s formal dress code policy.

Other law firms to have signed up to the code include Eversheds Sutherland and Bates Wells.

David Martin, Linklaters’ global diversity partner, said: “At Linklaters we are committed to being home to a culture and environment in which racial, ethnic, cultural and religious identities are celebrated and individuals feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work. We pride ourselves on our values of respect, integrity and inclusion and stand against all forms of racism and discrimination.”

The code seeks for organisations to acknowledge that Afro-textured hair is an important part of black employees’ culture and identity and that black employees should be free to wear Afro hair in all styles, including with headscarves and wraps.

The code also expects organisations to adhere to this statement: “We are a community built on an ethos of equality and respect where hair texture and style have no bearing on an employee's ability to succeed.”

Linklaters’ move to adopt the Halo Code follows the launch last October of its race action plan to increase black racial diversity at the firm. As part of that plan, the firm said it would establish a black diversity council to hold the firm to account for progress in fulfilling its commitments. Targets include ensuring 35% of its trainees every year are from minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK, with at least 10% of them being black.

Other firms have also been taking steps to improve racial diversity. Magic circle peer Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer this month said it plans to double the number of black associates at the firm by 2026. And in December, Norton Rose Fulbright appointed Shauna Clark as its new US and global chair, making her the first woman of colour to hold either role.

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