An interview with Fraser Morel (He/Him), Knowledge & Information Manager and Amsterdam Arcus Chair
What is your role within Arcus?
I have been an active member of Arcus globally and in Amsterdam particularly over the last decade. I set up our Amsterdam Arcus network around nine years ago, and have spearheaded all activities of the group since then. We have a steering committee in Amsterdam comprising of members of the wider Arcus Amsterdam network, and I chair that group.
How does Arcus impact the culture and way of working at Clifford Chance?
I think Arcus has a very positive impact on the culture and way of working at Clifford Chance. Obviously we're an international firm with offices in a wide range of jurisdictions. Every time we undertake an activity in offices where it is easier to be open and out, we are sending a message of solidarity and support to LGBT+ colleagues located around the world. This could be through our annual Pride Art exhibitions which are hosted in 10+ countries annually, the details of which are shared worldwide within Clifford Chance. But these kinds of messages can also be delivered in other ways – for example – within the firm I'm a member of our global knowledge community. In September, I was invited by our global knowledge partner to speak about Arcus on two global knowledge calls. The reaction following these talks was quite overwhelming, with colleagues reaching out from various offices about the need to be brave, and to speak up.
How does Arcus collaborate and work with the other networks at Clifford Chance?
I would like, in the future, for Arcus Amsterdam to collaborate more with other networks at the firm – particularly with the firm's REACH (Race Equality and Celebrating Heritage) network. Some marginalised people experience multiple forms of oppression, and intersectionality is something we should highlight.
What are the biggest achievements of Arcus Amsterdam so far?
In the relatively short time Arcus Amsterdam has existed, it's remarkable to look back and note that we have organised multiple events including six Pride Art exhibitions and three human rights (LGBT+) seminars. Additionally, I spent two years on the board of a non-profit foundation in Amsterdam called Workplace Pride. All these efforts, also by other members of Arcus Amsterdam, have been acknowledged, also with seven award nominations. In fact, three members of Clifford Chance Amsterdam have over the past decade picked up four awards from a range of bodies including Chambers (D&I). I think it's important to enjoy and even highlight these lighter moments whilst remaining focused on inclusion and actively demonstrating your commitment to it.
What was your proudest moment as an Arcus member?
In June 2019, our Global Inclusion Director, Tiernan Brady, visited Clifford Chance Amsterdam and gave a talk on his work on equal marriage rights in Ireland and Australia. Not only did we have dozens of external guests present, but also our Global Senior Partner, our joint Amsterdam Office Managing Partners, and our Amsterdam General Manager. Seeing such a mix of colleagues in one space for such an electric talk – both members of Arcus and Arcus Allies – made me feel very proud and also very supported.
How has the pandemic affected how the network operates?
The pandemic this year gave birth, in a way, to our global Arcus and Allies yammer page and it was remarkable to me, how effectively this platform was used by the global community to share information and to essentially build bridges. This year I have felt disconnected from family, friends, colleagues and allies and yet somehow much closer to the global Arcus community than ever before, thanks to the Yammer page but also thanks to contact with many in the network including several allies. The fact that we have hosted many LGBT+ themed webinars – both internal and external – has also been really wonderful.
What do you see for the future of Arcus?
I would like to see an even more active Arcus network in every jurisdiction or region where we have a presence; and I would like to be able to provide my assistance – where needed – to bring Arcus initiatives to life across the network.