We are shocked, alarmed and saddened at recent tragic events unfolding around the United States, including the horrific murder of George Floyd, who is just the most recent victim of years of violence against Black Americans perpetuated by law enforcement. This physical violence is the latest example of a history of institutionally ingrained racism, which continues to deny Black communities across the world fair justice and human rights. This institutional racism degrades Black communities in other structural ways such as limiting access to quality housing, education, employment, healthcare and opportunities. Freshfields stands with countless others around the world to say that this must end, and we will be a part of ending it.
As a global firm, we recognize that so many people in our communities have experienced – and continue to experience – the cruel pain of casual, institutional and structural racism. Because we are a community, this pain, when suffered by any of us, reverberates through all of us.
Over the past few days, colleagues in the US Black Employee Resource Group and Global Black Affinity Network have expressed fear, anger and pain at town halls and meetings where many of them bravely shared the indignities and dangers of living as Black people. We recognize that these feelings are not unique; many Black people carry these traumas with them every day.
As lawyers and legal professionals, we bear a responsibility to address racial injustice and we pledge to leverage our resources, talent and energy to do so. We are proud of our pro bono work in support of racial equality and justice and our work creating a pipeline for talented Black students with organizations such as Legal Outreach and our own Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship. We will double down on these efforts.
Today we commit to an initial donation of $100,000 to US national and local organizations on the frontline battling racial injustice. This is a first step of many. Going forward we will work as a firm to develop and contribute globally to initiatives that address the trauma and inequities inflicted by institutional racism.
We also know we have work to do to ensure our workplace is free from bias and inclusive for all – our daily actions and behaviors matter. We will continue the difficult discussions necessary to support change in our communities and within our firm. We pledge to move quickly from conversation to action.
We stand together, side-by-side, committed to make a difference.