- Founder Charles Evans Hughes campaigned vigorously for women's suffrage in his near-victory over Woodrow Wilson in the 1916 presidential race.
- In 1942, Hughes Hubbard "broke ranks with other 'Wall Street' firms in hiring the first female associate," the late Boris Bittker of Yale Law School wrote in a letter in 2003. "Most such firms did not even interview young women."
- In 1969, Hughes Hubbard made the first African-American female partner of any major New York firm, Amalya Kearse, who later went on to become only the second African-American to sit on the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
- In 1999, Hughes Hubbard made Candace Beinecke the first woman to chair a major New York law firm.
- In 2003, The American Lawyer observed, "One firm that seems to have made things work is New York's Hughes Hubbard & Reed. With 24 percent women equity partners, it ranks highest in the Am Law 200 pack."
Today, Hughes Hubbard continues this tradition with an uncompromising commitment to diversity, a strong policy to articulate it and a comprehensive program to implement it. That means fostering an inclusive work environment – one free of discrimination of any kind – where individuals can flourish and do their best work. Efforts include recruiting more minorities, women, and LGBT attorneys. However, the Firm's commitment to furthering diversity does not end with the hiring process.
To achieve meaningful and lasting progress, Hughes Hubbard has launched a strategic plan to place attorneys with varied backgrounds in positions of influence throughout the Firm, such as office and practice leaders.
To further these goals, Hughes Hubbard has an active, standing committee to address issues of diversity at the Firm, as well as a diversity taskforce of associates, who assist in developing and maintaining policies to promote a diverse work force within the Firm. And Hughes Hubbard has developed a mentoring program to foster a supportive work environment for all attorneys and ensure that attorneys of diversity in particular receive interesting and challenging legal work and guidance.
Such accomplishments have garnered Hughes Hubbard recognition. The National Organization of Women (NOW) honored Hughes Hubbard for its excellent record of promoting women to positions of authority with its "Women of Power and Influence Award." And in 2003, The American Lawyer reported that Hughes Hubbard had the highest percentage of female partners in the Am Law 200. In 2004, the firm ranked fourth in the Am Law 200 for overall diversity. In the 2011 Vault Best Law Firms for Diversity rankings, the Firm ranked second for overall diversity and eighth for LGBT diversity.