"I am proud to have been asked to be Stephenson Harwood's new CEO. Whilst I am sure that over its 150-year history, I am not the first LGBT+ person to hold a senior management role at the firm, I am the first person to be able to do so openly. I am confident that the fact that I am a gay man was never considered, either negatively or positively, as part of the firm's decision-making process for choosing its next CEO, and that is how it should be. When I started working in the city nearly 25 years ago, my sexuality would have been seen as ‘an issue’ and a negative one at that. We have come a long way since then.”
- Eifion Morris, Partner specialising in IP law, and the firm’s future CEO, Stephenson Harwood
1. Can you name an LGBT+ person who has inspired you in your career?
My husband Julian has always played an active part in helping me build the IP practice at Stephenson Harwood. He has met most of my clients, including many partners from Kilburn & Strode, attends IP conferences such as INTA and frequently comes along to our team social events. To be honest, my clients find him a lot more interesting than me and it has been helpful to me in my career to be seen to be different. Without his support the IP team at Stephenson Harwood would not be the success it is today with five partners and 15 associates globally. However, I appreciate that this may not be the same for everybody and I am saddened to read that young lawyers go back into the closet when they join a city law firm because they are worried about being seen as being different.
2. What do you do, in your organisation or outside, to inspire the next generation of LGBT+ talent?
To help people joining the firm to understand that they can be open and comfortable in the workplace with their sexuality from day one, we launched our LGBT+ network – Shout – last year. It is one of a number of initiatives launched to increase inclusion and diversity across the firm.
3. What are your top tips for LGBT+ people coming into the workplace now?
Indeed one of the main messages I would like to convey during my time as CEO is the value of diversity and how Stephenson Harwood welcomes it in all its wonderful and varied guises. Diversity of background, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, experience and ideas brings real strength to a business. The ability to be yourself at work will make you a happier and better lawyer or member of the business services team. Being yourself allows you to unlock all of your talents and to share your ideas and varied experiences fully with your teammates. The greater the openness to new ideas and new perspectives, the stronger the firm will be, making it more resilient and allowing it to adapt easier to face the global challenges every law firm and other businesses will face over the next few years.