White & Case established LGBT affinity groups in the US in 2007 and in London in 2008. These groups, open to all lawyers and employees, aim to develop a sense of community by providing peer support and to facilitate professional networking opportunities with LGBT networks of clients and others.
In 2011, we launched an LGBT affinity group called Spectrum throughout our five German offices, placing us at the forefront of a groundbreaking workplace inclusion initiative. In 2012, we joined the “Charter of Diversity” initiative, a government-promoted diversity program in the corporate sector in Germany, and we applied for the “Pride 175” audit, a new approach to measuring the quality of LGBT and inclusion efforts within firms. These initiatives showed our commitment to promoting diversity and creating a working environment that is free of prejudice.
Spectrum grew quickly in Germany. Already, it has teamed with high-profile clients and major banks and companies to host business events. It has facilitated discussion groups involving both corporate and human rights issues among business leaders in Germany, and it has conducted significant pro bono work on LGBT-related matters in Germany.
In one case, members of Spectrum represented an LGBT pro bono client in the Schützenkönig-Fall marksmanship competition. We co-founded [email protected], a foundation that advises businesses on best practices, together with the LGBT networks of Accenture, BASF, Commerzbank, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Telecom, IBM and SAP. We also advise a number of non-governmental organizations (including Transgender Europe, Hamburg Pride Foundation and Human Rights Matter), helping them set up their corporate branches in Germany.
Matthias Stupp, a Corporate/M&A partner in Hamburg, leads Spectrum in Germany and remains actively involved in [email protected], as the chair of its advisory board. For Matthias, the same desire to assist clients that led him to become a Corporate/M&A lawyer drives him to improve general human rights in Germany’s business environment. “Spectrum is a way for our lawyers to connect with other business leaders in Germany while achieving meaningful changes on human rights issues,” he notes.
Dennis Heuer, a Capital Markets partner in Frankfurt, and a member of White & Case’s Global Diversity Committee, is proud of our highly-regarded efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in Germany. For Dennis, the success of Spectrum in Germany is not surprising given the enthusiasm of its leader Matthias Stupp and all of the founding members. “For me, Spectrum Germany stands for even more than improving diversity and inclusion in Germany. In a global professional services firm like White & Case, it is all about people. Whilst they may have different cultural and personal backgrounds, the common driver always is motivation and personal success. With this in mind, Spectrum Germany is a perfect role model where you can observe what happens if you create an open and inclusive working environment,” he notes.