Face Equality International (‘’the Alliance’’) is an alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), charities and support groups which are working at national, regional or international levels to promote the campaign for ‘face equality’. It is devoted to enabling people with facial disfigurements across the globe to live a life free from discrimination and stigma.
Stage one of the project involved the Reed Smith and Bank of America team producing a written report for Face Equality International on how disability law and human rights law can help individuals combat discrimination they may have experienced on the grounds of facial disfigurement.
The report focused on four key areas of legislation - the UK Equality Act 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It summarised each piece of legislation, with the specific purpose of setting out the rights available to the constituents of Face Equality International members’ organisations, and to the wider facial difference community whilst identifying any gaps in existing legislation.
As part of the next step of the project, the Alliance has requested that the Reed Smith and Bank of America team to assist with transforming the report into targeted and tailored guidance for specific groups who would benefit from the findings, including individuals with facial disfigurements.
This stage of the project will result in the development of a series of concise and accessible fact sheets, derived from the analysis produced in stage one. These fact sheets will serve as a quick reference guide for Face Equality International member organisations and for individuals who would like to understand how they are protected as well as how they can best enforce their rights under the different pieces of legislation, while also additionally covering equivalent human rights legislation.
Any person who has a facial difference or disfigurement from any cause should have the information available to them and benefit from knowing these individual rights and where they might exist. It is hoped that a greater understanding of the existing information and where the gaps may lie will also serve as an impetus for new or improved protections around the world.
Carolyn Pepper, the co-chair of Reed Smith’s Disability Business Inclusion Group LEADRS, commented:
“We believe in the importance of fostering diversity, equity and inclusion and so we were absolutely delighted when Face Equality International asked us to assist with the important work being done to support its members. We hope that the work that our lawyers and the team at Bank of America have done will be a catalyst for change and will help to combat discrimination against people with facial disfigurements.”
Ike Osaki, EMEA General Counsel at Bank of America said:
“Individuals with facial disfigurement are subject to discrimination on a daily basis. By partnering with Face Equality International and Reed Smith on this report, we are working to fundamentally change this. Our aligned ambition is to tackle prejudice, enable people with facial disfigurements and differences to understand their rights and to help drive systemic change.”
Paul Wilden, Trustee of Face Equality International commented:
“The engagement and support we have seen from both Reed Smith and Bank of America for this important work has been phenomenal. We are encouraged that this important work will create both a platform and visibility for those living with facial disfigurement across the world.”
Phyllida Swift, CEO of Face Equality International said:
“Disfigurement goes hand in hand with poverty, prejudice and exclusion. So enabling our communities to understand their rights when they are subject to injustice is paramount. We are devoted to raising the profile of disfigurement as a social justice issue, and improving the rights and protections of people with disfigurements, whilst counteracting stigma and championing inclusion. We are so incredibly grateful to the Reed Smith and Bank of America teams for helping us to better understand how the law can protect and serve our communities right now, and enabling us to identify areas to lobby for improvement in the future.”
The global team assisting Face Equity International consists of around 40 lawyers in total, including Reed Smith lawyers in the firm’s Hong Kong, London, Washington, D.C., Houston, Frankfurt, Paris, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Dubai offices alongside Bank of America lawyers from London and New York.
About Face Equality International
The mission of Face Equality International (FEI) is to mobilise the many groups and organisations, big and small, national and international, which support and represent people with facial differences and disfigurements and thereby to create the critical mass and solidarity needed to gain global attention for the campaign for face equality. The alliance acts as a powerful, collective voice for those affected by facial difference.
About Bank of America
At Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. With an inclusive culture and innovative mindset, we deliver smarter, more creative legal services that drive better outcomes for our clients. Our deep industry knowledge, long-standing relationships and collaborative structure make us the go-to partner for complex disputes, transactions, and regulatory matters.
For more information, please visit reedsmith.com.
For more information, please visit faceequalityinternational.org.