We understand the importance of an inclusive culture, the continued development of which has been identified as one of the key priorities for Macfarlanes.

Our focus is to foster 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 are carefully reviewing 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.

Some of our current initiatives are:

Staff networks

We have four staff-led networks which provide opportunities for social interaction, peer support and personal development. A variety of partners co-chair these networks.

Balance: a forum for all staff managing careers and home lives, enabling discussion, support and the exchange of information and ideas, to achieve a balance of opportunity for all. 

LGBT & friends: a forum for networking and peer support, open to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, to inform staff on LGBT action and to communicate information to colleagues interested in LGBT matters.

BME & friends: a forum for networking and peer support between ethnic minority staff and allies, which enables the sharing and exchange of relevant information and ideas.

EnABLE: a forum to offer support to staff who have direct experience of or support others with; neurodiverse conditions, long term health conditions, disabilities and mental health.

Gender imbalance in senior roles

We appreciate that greater transparency about paths into senior roles is important and this area is being improved as part of a new career progression and sponsorship programme.

We are particularly focused on improving the retention and development of our female talent in all areas of the firm.

We are members of the 30% Club's Professional Services Firms' initiative (the 30% Club was established with the aim of having 30% women on every FTSE-100 board). This initiative assesses the specific challenges for professional services firms and is devising new collaborative actions to accelerate progress across the profession. In Autumn 2017, the firm joined the 30% Club cross company mentoring scheme with 40 other organisations across the City. All four year PQE female solicitors across the firm are able to participate as mentees and some of our partners and heads of business services participate as mentors. 

The firm is also an active member of a number of other external networks including Network for Knowledge, Association of Women Solicitors, Women in Private Equity and IFLR Women in Business Law Group.  


We partner with Rare Recruitment to attract training contract and vacation scheme applications from young people from black and ethnic minority (BME) communities. We provide skills, networking and careers sessions for Rare Recruitment candidates. 

Macfarlanes was 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 actual 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. 

Internally, an initiative to increase awareness of different cultural and religious practices was a suggestion following the Diversity Committee’s survey of ethnic minority solicitors.  The firm now has a rolling programme of informative updates covering all the major cultural and religious events which is promoted firm wide.

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 Head of Inclusion and CSR

Ethnicity Awards 2019 - Workplace Hero Award Winner: Jat Bains

Following the success of the Investing in Ethnicity initiative, the Ethnicity awards recognise those working to ensure that all people are afforded equal opportunity, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Congratulations to partner Jat Bains on winning the Investing in Ethnicity Workplace Hero award 2019. Jat was recognised as a dedicated member of the firm’s Diversity Committee, the Trainee Solicitor Committee and a partner champion of the BME & friends staff network.

We are working hard to progress our ethnicity agenda and in recognition of this Macfarlanes was named as a top 10 outstanding employer in the 2019 Investing in Ethnicity awards.

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 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.  In 2016, the firm joined Aspiring Solicitors which better enables us to reach students from a variety of backgrounds across a broad spread of universities. See our graduate recruitment pages for more information on these initiatives. 

Staff mentoring

In addition to providing excellent on-the-job training, particularly through working on partner-led teams, we offer extensive legal education and training and professional skills programmes. 

We also have a firm-wide mentoring scheme. Under the solicitor scheme, every solicitor is paired with a partner from the same practice area (or they can specify a partner of a specific gender, background or from outside their practice area).  It is a fantastic opportunity to receive regular advice and support from a designated partner. As well as a business services development programme, the firm has also implemented a new mentoring scheme for business services staff, secretaries and legal assistants to enable junior business services staff to access guidance from more experienced colleagues.

Staff wellbeing

Macfarlanes is committed to the long-term physiological and psychological health and wellbeing of our staff. Our wellbeing programme, designed to raise awareness of health and lifestyle issues affecting mental, physical and financial health and wellbeing, offers a variety of programmes for staff in need of assistance. It also offers workshops on topics such as resilience, nutrition and parenting. 

Further to this, an innovative, award-wining new service which we launched in 2016 is vdoc – enabling staff to attend a GP appointment via Skype from the office and often on the same day.

We also partner with a number of other important organisations. Click here to find out more.

In recognition of our role in setting up the Reignite Academy (in collaboration with five other law firms), Macfarlanes won the Diversity and Inclusion category at the FT Innovative Lawyer Awards 2019. The Reignite Academy helps lawyers, particularly women, return to work in law firms after an extended career break.

Work/life balance and parenting support

We run a successful working from home scheme which enables all full time solicitors to work from home one full day every fortnight without requiring partner approval.

Further to this, the firm is a cornerstone sponsor of Cityparents and all staff have access to a programme of seminars aimed at helping working parents. We also offer parental transition coaching to new mothers and fathers. 

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.

Pay gap report

Download our 2019 report, which includes the required statistics for the firm's pay and bonus gap, proportion of men and women receiving a bonus and pay quartiles. We also outline some of the initiatives underway in the firm (details of many of which can also be found on our website), that are designed to address the gap.