Reed Smith LLP UK

‘Mindset Is Everything’, Alicia Millar, Role Model Opens Up About Being Lesbian At Work

Alicia Millar, co-chair of PRISM, Reed Smith’s LGBT network in Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA), has been shortlisted for the Diversity Champion award at the British LGBT Awards

Since when are you out at work?

I have been out at work for at least 15 years, since I started working in law in fact. Before then, I had to face the sad reality on how being gay was perceived in the workplace and how it would even be relevant in the workplace. At my first ‘career’ job, on the induction day, I was due to meet Andrew, the payroll guy. Beforehand however I was told : ‘by the way he is one of them’. I didn’t really know what to do with this information. It didn’t cross my mind something like this could happen. I was sad because I didn’t say anything, should I have? Nevertheless, said Andrew has been a dear friend ever since, and was best man at my wedding.

How did you feel the first time(s) you came out to your family, friends and workplace? 

My coming-out moments were always slightly strange. I have always felt somewhat embarrassed to have to come out again and again. I grew up in a very open family. My parents taught me to see the person, the human in people being before other things. When I came out to my father, he said ‘I don’t care what you do in bed, live your life the way you want’. My parents are both wonderful.
I knew I was different from a very young age. I went to an all girls schooI, there I saw bullying about sexuality and feminine identity and I certainly didn’t come out until I was at University. Going back to London, my home town, after University was weird because I had to came out to my childhood friends, and I was a very different person to who I was when I left. 

It seems your sexuality has turned out to be an advantage in the workplace for you? how is it the case?

Actually I would say that it is my professional difference, my confidence and drive that creates the advantage, not my sexuality. I have certainly learnt through experience to normalise reference to my sexuality in the workplace, for example I talk about my wife whenever the “how was your weekend?” conversation starts.

Do you think ‘being different’ is more a drawback or an advantage that everyone should use to progress in their career? 

I believe people that come out and want to become Role Models need to have the mindset for it . You need to be brave, you have to be prepared to be in the spotlight at all times, you need to consider why it matters to be a role-model. You need to use this as an armour, for your personal resilience. Mindset is everything.

Reed Smith seems to be a very supportive employer. How have they supported their LGBTI employees and for how long?

There has been an employee lead network going for many years which indicates the Reed Smith culture is very supportive of its employees. We have an out LGBTI partner at the board level, and have out LGBTI partners in other leadership positions, plus several other employees that are out. We also have senior leaders who are LGBTI allies and champions. I truly feel that Reed Smith is leading the way for LGBTI role models within the legal industry.

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PRISM Summer Party 2016

PRISM, Reed Smith’s European LGBT network, was thrilled to host over 250 guests at our second annual summer drinks reception at Century Club, Soho on Thursday 9 June. The event took place the evening before, and therefore provided a wonderful introduction to, the start of the two week London Pride Festival 2016. It was the perfect occasion for everyone to come together to celebrate who we are and to be our true authentic selves.

We were delighted that so many of our clients, colleagues and friends were able to join us in such a beautiful rooftop setting, to celebrate Reed Smith’s commitment to diversity and promoting LGBT equality and inclusion. We hosted senior representatives from key client organisations including: 21st Century Fox, AstraZeneca, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, BBC, BNP Paribas, BP, BTG Pactual, Channel 4, Citi, Coutts, Fremantle, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ITV, JP Morgan,, Lloyds, Macquarie, McDonald’s, PWC, RBS, Shell, Sky, Sony, Soundcloud, TripAdvisor, Unicredit and Warner Bros. 

This year, our event was truly international, as we welcomed colleagues from our Paris, New York and San Francisco offices. The events that occurred in Orlando just a few days later demonstrated yet again why it is so important for us to celebrate diversity and inclusion and to stand together as a proud LGBT community.

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Reed Smith is a global law firm with more than 1,800 lawyers in 26 offices throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.


Operating as one global partnership, we represent leading international businesses from FTSE 100 corporations to mid-market and emerging enterprises; advising clients on cross border transactions, international commercial disputes and regulation. We specialise in industries including financial services, life sciences, health care, energy and natural resources, advertising, technology and media, shipping and real estate.


We all share a common culture, with core values supporting the firm’s commitment to add value, achieve excellence, and promote professional development.


London is our largest office with approximately 600 people, including over 300 fee earners across the full range of commercial practice areas. Consistent with the firm’s strategy, the office has grown significantly over the past five years. Key to this growth has been our ability to successfully integrate new hires into our business and give them a platform to flourish. We place a huge significance on listening to our people and incorporating their ideas wherever possible and this is evidenced by numerous awards:


• Legal Week, Best Legal Employer 2015

• The Guardian UK 300 most popular companies to work for 2014/15 – 179th position

• Financial Times 2015 – winner of the Architect of Meritocracy Award with the Apollo Project

• Law Society Excellence Awards 2015 – winner of Excellence in Diversity

• The Lawyer Business Leadership Awards 2015 – winner of Most Effective Diversity Programme

• All About Law 2015 – shortlisted for Best for Job Satisfaction (Vacation Scheme) and Best Opportunities for Career Progression (Training Contract)

• The Lawyer Business Leadership Awards 2015 – shortlisted for Excellence in                     Training/Talent Management and Most Effective Diversity programme

• Legal Education and Training Group 2014 – winner of the Best programme (Client              Development) 

• Managing Partners' Forum 2014 Awards for Management Excellence – winner of the Best Programme for Leadership Development


For further information, please visit:


Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are central to our business. The talent pool is changing rapidly and we are determined to attract candidates from the widest pool possible, to continue to be competitive and to ensure the very best service for our clients. We see  differences as a strength and we work hard to ensure a fair and inclusive environment for all, where the unique insights, perspectives and backgrounds of individuals are valued.

We run a number of programmes focused on all aspects of diversity and inclusion, including: race and ethnicity, disability, social mobility, gender equality and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.


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I am a future trainee solicitor at Reed Smith, and very recently undertook a vacation scheme at the firm. I found the environment, especially in departments like media, to be very welcoming and people with differences were actively embraced and made to feel part of the team. I've also worked with Reed Smith before joining on Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and was struck by the passion and commitment they demonstrated to these, far more than any other firm I applied to.


We're thrilled to be the first international law firm to partner with myGwork. The site gives us an incredibly valuable platform for attracting more top LGBT talent into our organisation as well as allowing us to showcase our diversity credentials. Huw Morris, co-chair of PRISM


I worked at Reed Smith a number of years ago and, whilst the firm has always created an inclusive environment for its staff, there was certainly not as much activity in the LGBT space as there appears to be now. I am glad to see that Huw and Alicia are leading lots of initiatives and really driving forward Reed Smith's diversity and inclusion agenda.

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