MBE QC (HON) IS THE FOUNDER & CHAIR OF THE INTERLAW DIVERSITY FORUM
DANIEL WINTERFELDT MBE QC (HON) IS THE FOUNDER & CHAIR OF THE INTERLAW DIVERSITY FORUM
You are general counsel for EMEA and Asia at Jefferies, a global investment bank headquartered in New York. What is your background and how long have you been working for Jefferies?
I am just completing my first year at Jefferies as General Counsel for EMEA and Asia. I have been working as an international corporate lawyer for over 22 years in London and New York.
You work with the InterLaw Diversity Forum. what are the aims of the InterLaw Diversity Forum – and what are its successes?
I founded the InterLaw Diversity Forum in 2008 as an inter-organisational forum for all LGBT+ personnel in the legal sector. Since the launch of the InterLaw Diversity Forum, the legal sector’s performance in Stonewall’s Work Equality Index (WEI) has dramatically improved: In 2007 there were no law firms represented in the Top 100 Employers, and the legal sector ranked second from the bottom in the WEI. In 2017 there were 17 law firms recognised in the Top 100 Employers, and the legal sector was the top-ranking sector overall in the WEI. Stonewall has stated: “A major part of the movement forward for the [legal] sector has been the InterLaw Diversity Forum. It helped provide a sector specific focus.”
We are also very proud of our fundraising work to support the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ+ community, having raised over £500,000 for the Albert Kennedy Trust and their vital work with homeless and at risk LGBTQ+ youth, Switchboard – LGBT+ Helpline, Terrence Higgins Trust, Stonewall, and others.
The InterLaw Diversity Forum was originally created with the LGBTQ+ community in mind. Now it has expanded BEYOND THAT SECTOR Why is this so important?
Since its founding the InterLaw Diversity Forum has expanded its scope beyond LGBT+ to encompass all strands of diversity and inclusion (including Race & Ethnicity, Disability, Gender, and social mobility), with a particular focus on cultural change in the workplace, allyship, and “multiple identities”/intersectionality. Our mission is to foster inclusion for all diverse, socially mobile, and under-represented talent working in the legal sector, and to promote meritocracy in all sectors by working to ‘level the playing field’ in order to create environments where the best talent can succeed.
The InterLaw Diversity Forum currently has more than 9,000 members and supporters from over 300 law firms and chambers, and from over 500 corporates and financial institutions.
WHAT STEPS CAN AN EMPLOYER TAKE TO CREATE A GENUINELY INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE WORKPLACE?
There are mountains of data to show that a diverse and inclusive workplace yields the best bottom line for a company. Employers need to focus on their culture and collect data to find out where they are doing well and where they need improvement when it comes to LGBTQ+ and other diverse and socially mobile talent.
They then need to focus on those areas of improvement throughout the lifecycle of an employee including recruitment, retention, and promotion. They should be careful not to just follow trends or fads, but to focus on their individual organisation and its culture and people.They also need to focus on leadership training to ensure that are creating an inclusive workplace where all talent can thrive.
In the past few years we’ve seen great advances in our rights. What more needs to be done?
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.
We are currently having a huge challenge for trans rights in the United Kingdom with a barrage of negativity and misinformation in the media. We need to ensure that all of our community feels safe, protected, and able to live their best lives. We need to ban conversion therapy for the LGBTQ+ community to protect the most vulnerable.We also need to focus on LGBTQ+ families as we are very far behind other comparable places such as New York or Tel Aviv and have modern, legal surrogacy in the United Kingdom. This is critical for LGBTQ+ men for creating families and it should not just be accessible to the wealthy who can afford to go abroad to the United States. We also need greater accountability for our existing DEI laws including the Equalities Act.
It’s 2022. Where would you like to see the legal – and wider – community in 2032?
We have a long way to go for LGBTQ+ and other diverse and socially mobile talent in the legal profession. The InterLaw Diversity Forum’s new research report published late last year is filled with data across all strands of DEI and social mobility and highlights the progress we have made since our last report in 2012 and where we still face challenges. You can see that at: interlawdiversityforum.org/career-progression-report-2021
We are also hoping to see progress across the legal sector driven by DEI and culture data and transparency through the UK Model Diversity Survey (MDS). The UK MDS is a supplier diversity questionnaire which corporate and financial institutions use to monitor their panel firms/legal service suppliers on diversity, inclusion, and culture. The purpose of the survey is to serve as the standard for law firms’ reporting of their diversity metrics. The benefits the survey has are data uniformity, time efficiency, and trending year over year in aggregate and for individual firms. We hope this will lead to a shift in DEI activity towards things that will unlock changes in the recruitment, retention, and promotion of LGBTQ+ and other diverse and socially mobile talent. You can see more information at: interlawdiversityforum.org/uk-model-diversity-survey
On a personal or professional level, what has been your proudest achievement?
In November 2021, I was awarded Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causa (Honorary QC) for both contributions to capital markets in England & Wales as well as contributions to diversity, inclusion and culture in the legal sector through the InterLaw Diversity Forum in a ceremony at UK Parliament by the Lord Chancellor.
Later that month I was also awarded an MBE for “Services to Capital Markets, to Equality and to Diversity in the Legal Profession” by HRH Princess Royal at Windsor Castle to recognise my work for capital markets as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.