We are committed to fostering an inclusive culture throughout the firm, from entry level to partnership. It is about recruiting, retaining and promoting all groups in the firm fairly, and we have invested in our processes to ensure that everyone has the same chance to develop and advance. An inclusive, forward-thinking culture also enables us to provide innovative solutions to our clients.

Gender imbalance in senior roles

As we work towards our 2026 and 2030 partnership targets for gender and ethnicity (further details below), we have created the Legal Women’s Network in response to feedback from female fee earners.

In 2020 we launched the Female Lawyers Forum – a bespoke career progression programme. One of the most helpful elements of the programme was the opportunity to network with other female fee earners across the firm. The Legal Women’s Network continues to build strong working relationships with women across the firm, while also enabling the firm to gain female perspectives when considering the working environment.


We encourage an environment where the culture and background of every person can be celebrated, enabling them to flourish and thrive.

We work with a number of organisations to ensure that we are recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates; this includes working closely with organisations such as Rare Recruitment and Bright Network to attract training contract and vacation scheme applications from young people from black and ethnic minority (BME) communities.

Macfarlanes was also one of the first signatories to Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment System which enables us to understand the context of a candidate’s experiences and qualifications. This is a helpful tool because it shows a candidate’s A-Level grades against the average for their school, as well as other social mobility factors, thereby helping to level the playing field between candidates from different backgrounds.

Legal CORE

Legal CORE (Collaboration on Race and Ethnicity), is an initiative launched by Macfarlanes and seven other law firms to help tackle race and ethnicity challenges within the legal sector. The aim of Legal CORE is to increase the representation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) individuals in private practice by focusing on the retention and promotion of ethnically diverse talent.

Conversations about Race

We run a Conversations about Race programme. This programme is an important part of our progress in relation to building a more representative partnership. The first part of the programme comprises five short videos featuring members of our management board and external experts. The second part of the programme has been set up as a series of mandatory in person workshops, known as “Conversations about our culture”.

Race Fairness Commitment

Macfarlanes was one of 17 initial law firm signatories to the Race Fairness Commitment (RFC). The RFC is data driven and commits law firms to measuring things like “application to interview” and “interview to offer” rates for different ethnic groups, as well as monitoring how people from different ethnic groups progress through firms.

We have also been recognised as an advanced employer by Investing in Ethnicity.

It is about recruiting, retaining and promoting all groups in the firm fairly, and we have spent a lot of time reviewing our processes to ensure that everyone has the same chance to develop and advance.
Louise Zekaria Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Social mobility

We have adapted our recruitment processes to ensure that we recruit the best candidates regardless of their background. In addition to the Rare Recruitment’s contextual recruitment tool, we were one of the first law firms to ensure that the vast majority of our assessment processes for both our vacation schemes and training contracts are scored CV blind. This means that part of a candidate’s assessment is based on their actual performance on the day, which we believe promotes greater fairness.

We are working with Aspiring Solicitors and upReach to better enable us to reach students from a variety of backgrounds across a broad spread of universities. See our Early Legal Careers pages for more information on these initiatives.

In 2023 we were delighted to move 30 places in the Social Mobility Employer Index rankings to number 23 in relation to our social mobility efforts.

Partnership targets action plan

In 2021 the firm announced updated gender and ethnicity partner targets for 2026 and 2030. The firm also published a five step action plan which provides the framework by which we intend to achieve these partnership targets, as well as an ongoing process for monitoring progress. Read the action plan summary, the update report from year one (2022) and the report on the actions that are underway two years on (2023). These actions, together with all of the other steps that are underway at the firm, ensure that we continue to develop both the strength of our culture and an inclusive environment.

Reverse Mentoring

During 2020 we ran a successful BME reverse mentoring programme with a focus on race and ethnicity facilitated by Afua Hirsch. Senior members of the firm were paired with reverse mentors from ethnic minority backgrounds, who shared their experiences and helped our senior leaders gain new insights.

Following on from the successes of our BME reverse mentoring initiative we expanded this programme which is now known as MentorMacs. Our mentors all come from underrepresented groups and throughout the programme, share their lived experiences with their mentees. The mentees are senior leaders at the firm – e.g. a partner, director, head of department or senior manager. MentorMacs provides a supportive space for both mentors and mentees as they explore and discuss different perspectives on important topics.

Many of our mentors offer perspectives aligned to our staff networks, we also often have mentors who’s lived experiences are intersectional. Each bring their own unique characteristics and it is important to consider every element that may influence their lived experiences.

  • Balance - mentors who are managing work and home lives (particularly when that involves caring responsibilities)
  • DAWN - mentors who have direct experience of disabilities, neurodiverse conditions or other long or short term conditions, or mentors who directly support others who are experiencing these
  • Pride - mentors who identify as LGBTQ+
  • REACH - mentors from ethnic minority backgrounds

Wellbeing and disability 

Macfarlanes is committed to the long-term health and wellbeing of all its staff and partners of the firm.

We aim to create a positive working environment where everyone thrives. Whether it’s a friendly catch up or providing information about our free confidential counselling, colleagues from across the firm will work together to support you and liaise as appropriate with medical professionals with the object of helping you maintain good physiological and psychological health.

We have a ‘wellbeing hub’ which brings together all of our wellbeing initiatives that promote the importance of your physical, financial, emotional and social wellbeing. We also run a range of year-round events designed to raise awareness of health and lifestyle issues affecting mental health and wellbeing. Recent topics have included building resilience, sleep, and nutrition. Regular pension and mortgage clinics are run at the firm by external providers.

Everyone at Macfarlanes is encouraged to access all of the wellbeing resources and support provided by the firm. Further to this, the firm is a cornerstone sponsor of WorkLife Central and all staff have access to a programme of seminars aimed at helping City professionals. We also offer parental transition coaching to new parents.

Our adjustments policy highlights our commitment to supporting disabled employees, and employees who need additional support on a short or long-term basis, through the implementation of workplace adjustments. The firm understands that disabilities and other circumstances affecting a person’s physical and/or mental health can impact people at work in a wide range of ways and we want to ensure all employees have the support they need working at Macfarlanes. There are a variety of adjustments we make for our employees such as physical adjustments to working environments, assistive IT software installed onto devices and adjustments made to other areas such as working patterns.

We are an equal opportunity employer and if you believe that there are aspects of the recruitment process or job that you anticipate might be difficult for you due to a disability or long term health condition, please contact the Recruitment team as soon as possible and they will be happy to discuss any reasonable adjustments that can be made.

We have been working hard to ensure our parents have the best possible experience when they take parental leave and on their return to work. Macfarlanes were delighted to have won the Best for Mothers award at the Working Families Best Practice Awards 2022.
We were ranked first in the legal sector in the My Family Care Parental Leave Policy & Reward Benchmark 2019. 250 companies provided details of their current policies and benefits for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave.

Our diversity statistics

We collect diversity data about our employees and partners annually. View our most recent statistics.

Download our 2023 pay gap report which includes both statutory and additional reporting.