Linklaters asks staff and partners to disclose personal relationships to avoid conflicts of interest

Linklaters has asked its staff and partners to disclose personal relationships that could lead to conflicts of interest at work, as part of a number of initiatives introduced in response to the #MeToo movement.

The firm has said that it expects staff to discuss personal relationships with “office, group or practice heads or HR contacts”, to help manage “actual or perceived conflicts”.

While making it clear that it does not prohibit consensual relationships between colleagues, the firm said it wants to alert staff to potential issues that could arise when people are in a direct reporting line, or where one person can influence the “performance assessment, career progression, promotion work allocation or remuneration of the other”.

The firm highlighted relationships between a partner or director or an employee and contractor as examples that could lead to difficulties.

In a statement, Linklaters said: “It is not about prying into personal information, but about acting as a responsible business by supporting our people.”

Separately, the firm has also launched an external “whistleblowing hotline” to enable staff to raise concerns about harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace.

The initiative, called SpeakUp, is currently available to the firm’s staff in the UK, Americas and Asia, with plans to roll it out to other international offices.

The SpeakUp hotline is provided by an external company, meaning that individuals raising concerns are able to do so anonymously. Issues are then passed on to an internal group within the firm to allow an investigation to take place.

The firm said the hotline had been introduced to reassure those coming forward with genuine concerns that there would be no potential for any repercussions.

The two initiatives come after the firm recently exceeded its target for female partner promotions, with women making up 37% of its newly promoted cohort of 27 partners. Ten women have joined the partnership, with half of the female promotions in London.