What does a Law firm have to do with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras?

2 minute read  01.03.2022

It is a question often asked of MinterEllison, Australia's leading law firm. The answer is an enduring partnership with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) of nearly 25 years where MinterEllison has provided pro bono legal advice. For those at MinterEllison the firm's support for and participation in the Mardi Gras reflects the firm's core values of diversity and inclusion and enduring relationships.  This year, in 2022, they celebrate Mardi Gras by marching in the parade for the third successive year.

Key takeouts

  • We have been providing pro bono legal support to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) for over 20 years.
  • MinterEllison is a purpose led organisation with part of its core values focussed on diversity in all its forms and building authentic relationships to create lasting impacts for its people, clients, and the community.
  • Our theme for our third march in SGLMG this year is “The light in ME reflects the light in you” United we shine!

Albert Kruger, CEO Mardi Gras said "MinterEllison has been an incredible support to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for so long and without it, I doubt that we could achieve what we do. We are lucky to work with a team of dedicated and talented lawyers who really care about our community.  It's wonderful to partner with organisations like MinterEllison, who really do live up to the values of diversity and inclusion they talk about."

The anticipation is rising as people look forward to joining friends and colleagues on Saturday, 5 March 2022 for another COVID-safe event at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  It is clear this event means more than just costume designs, choreography, rehearsals, lighting, signage, design and weekly update meetings.  As the only large corporate law firm marching on the day, MinterEllison clearly views this as a privilege and an opportunity to elevate the dialogue around diversity and inclusion amongst their colleagues, clients, and the broader community.   

The excitement and passion for this event and what it represents is palpable to so many of the firm's more than 2500 staff, with the support of the firm's PRIME (Pride, Respect, and Inclusion at MinterEllison) committee, led by Partner, Gordon Williams and Special Counsel, Jennifer Veiga, both of whom identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Both Gordon and Jennifer are proudly front and centre of the Firm’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion, and both actively mentor and support others at the firm as they navigate their own paths.

The PRIME committee and Diversity and Inclusion team coordinate a calendar of events that include numerous communications, events, education, and recognition days of significance. The firm understands that LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace plays a vital role in making sure everyone feels safe and comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work. Gordon said “My involvement with PRIME, and marching with my colleagues at Mardi Gras, have been two of the highlights of my 21 years at MinterEllison.  I've been lucky – I've always had the support of my colleagues and I've never had to question if it's ok to be out at work.  But I know that's not a universal experience.  I hope that our participation in Mardi Gras, and that of so many other organisations, helps more queer people to be themselves at work and to thrive.”

Senior Associate Carmen Juarez said “I am so incredibly proud to work at MinterEllison because we truly and authentically champion diversity in all its forms. Publicly demonstrating our support for the LGBTQ+ community at Mardi Gras – now for the third year in a row – is such a powerful act and shows the firm's continued commitment to our community. It means the world to me to be able to be myself at work and to march and dance next to my incredible colleagues once again this year”. 

The theme of this year's Parade is 'United we Shine'. Using this as inspiration, the theme for MinterEllison’s float is 'The Light in ME reflects the light in you'.  Jennifer said “Our theme represents our determination to shine a light on our people who work so hard every day because the work that we do for our clients in meeting their needs, ultimately helps them to shine.  We also shine a light on society in its celebration of diversity in people through this event, to become more inclusive and respectful of every person for the collective good".

Virginia Briggs, CEO and Managing Partner at MinterEllison, added "Mardi Gras is one of the highlights of the MinterEllison calendar. I am incredibly proud of our partnership with Mardi Gras and of all the lawyers that have provided pro bono legal advice to Mardi Gras for almost 25 years to help this important event happen. Everyone marching this year is so excited (including me), particularly after the challenges of the past two years. This year we will be marching and shining a light on the need for equality and justice for the LGBTQ+ community as there are still many challenges in Australia and around the world. Our people and our clients value our commitment to inclusion and diversity. Our LGBTQ+ network PRIME is the beating heart of diversity and inclusion at Minters. As CEO and a passionate LGBTQ+ ally it's a joy and a privilege to march with my colleagues".  The tone of the firm clearly starts from the top down.

MinterEllison is a purpose led organisation with part of its core values focussed on diversity in all its forms and building authentic relationships to create lasting impacts for its people, clients, and the community. These values have formed part of the fabric at the firm for a long time.  In fact, for nearly 25 years, MinterEllison's corporate, commercial, employment, tax and intellectual property lawyers have helped the Mardi Gras teams with every aspect of their operations, from governance to sponsorship and to more recently helping with their successful bid for Sydney WorldPride 2023.

Their connections with SGLMG began in an era when LGBTQ+ Inclusion was not considered to be a workplace matter.   Former MinterEllison Partner and now a consultant to the firm, Duncan McGregor, and many of his colleagues were the first to offer their legal services to Mardi Gras despite doing so “under the radar”. Since then they have gone from quietly supporting to passionately and openly celebrating a strong relationship and everything it represents about who and what MinterEllison stands for today. 

Richard Crawford, a Partner at MinterEllison is passionate about the need for society to move forward in its acceptance of diversity, but also wants us to appreciate the path that so many past and present have taken to arrive at this point of inclusion in society.  Richard relays his personal story of change, courage and acceptance which saw him begin married life as a heterosexual man and father of two wonderful children until he made the decision to come out over 25 years later to his family and later firm.   A challenging time, and one that he tells with sincerity and sense of personal reflection that is so emotional for any listener and reminds us all, of the importance for acceptance and support.

There are so many who appreciate Richard's story and can attest to experiencing something similar in their lifetimes.  But for those that work at MinterEllison, Richard's courage and mentorship gives staff great strength and confidence to know they no longer must hide who they truly are in their place of employment.  After so much progress and movement over the past few decades, it remains clear that there is still more work to do in making events like the SGLMG Parade so relevant to society today.

Richard Crawford said "Mardi Gras is relevant today because although society and a great number of workplaces have moved to such an amazing level of inclusiveness and acceptance, there is still some way to go to make them a safe and comfortable place for people to be their authentic selves. There are so many people still out there, especially from my generation who grew up in a world, where in a lot of places including some states in Australia, it was a criminal offence to be gay, who for various reasons, cannot come out. We must keep the dialogue alive and remind future generations of why equality and an inclusive society is important to the growth, wealth, mental health and well-being of all people".

Ivan Luo, Associate at MinterEllison said "Prior to joining MinterEllison I was not involved in Mardi Gras and in fact had never attended the parade. Since then, I’ve marched twice and look forward to being involved this year. Being involved with Mardi Gras through MinterEllison has made me feel more connected to the LGBTQ+ community. I have met some amazing people and feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in such an iconic event".

It is clear that this dialogue is an ongoing one that needs to continue and grow in its reception for us to elevate ourselves as a society and a collective force. Because, United, we Shine! 


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