Law firms Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Slaughter and May have collaborated to assist with the development and launch of the Black Equity Organisation (BEO), a new national and independent civil rights group created to advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain.
The BEO is founded by some of the UK’s most influential Black leaders from the worlds of business, law, arts and social justice. In support of the BEO, together, the six firms provided seed funding and legal advice focusing on operational and governance issues and registration of the new organisation with the Charity Commission – all on a pro bono basis.
Initiated in 2020 in the wake of the global George Floyd protests and the spotlight on the racial inequalities for Black people, the BEO has been formed to take a data-driven approach in promoting economic, political and social equity for Black communities in Britain, in order to ensure equal opportunity for progress and prosperity. Along with the six core law firm supporters, the BEO has also has the backing of WPP and Sky amongst others.
In support of the organisation, the six law firms have provided strategic, financial and advisory support, as part of a commitment to work towards tackling racism in the UK.
Partnering with organisations in the private, public and non-profit sectors to address issues of structural racism, the BEO aims to tackle the six key mandates:
- Economic empowerment & equity of opportunity – to ensure Black communities are economically empowered and have the same professional and career opportunities as others.
- Education – to close the education attainment gap that exists between Black and White children in the UK throughout school and university, with knock-on effects in the labour-force.
- Justice, immigration & rights – to remove the sources of racial discrimination and eliminate disparities Black individuals experience within the criminal justice system.
- Culture, awareness & respect – to build broad public awareness of the existence of systemic racism in British society and its impact on Black communities to galvanize public support , outrage and commitment to eliminate sources of systemic racism.
- Health, wellness & care – to achieve health equality for all Black people in the UK including a healthy life and high-quality freely available health care, with equal outcomes irrespective of race.
- Housing and community – to address and remove the economic, structural and political barriers that contribute to the vast overrepresentation of Black people in rented and social accommodation and underrepresentation in privately owned accommodation.
BEO’s Chair of Trustees, Dame Vivian Hunt said:
“Our partner law firms were among the first organisations to join us in our journey. By devoting their time, expertise and passion they have played a vital role in the establishment the Black Equity Organisation (BEO). We look forward to deepening our partnerships with each of these law firms, and indeed others that wish to work with BEO, as together we work towards equity for Black Britons and broader society. We’d like to publicly thank these law firms for all that they have done.”
Nicole Williams, Counsel and Global Co-Head of Inclusion, Diversity & Belonging at Ashurst commented:
“We are proud to be a part of this collaborative group of firms working together on the launch of the BEO. The BEO, as the first and only organisation operating at scale to dismantle systemic racism affecting Black communities in the UK, will be key in progressing diversity and removing barriers. Across the firm, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is embedded in our values and culture, and is a core part of who we are. Our priority is to continue to do more to effect meaningful change and we are proud to provide our support in the drive for equality.”