Only 22% of Equity Partners at Law Firms are Women- compared to 61% of trainees
The Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) research study, conducted in partnership between Acritas and Thomson Reuters has found more needs to be done by law firms to improve retention rates of female lawyers. The study is based on responses from 48 leading UK and European law firms and analyzes levels of gender diversity across positions from Trainee to Executive Board. The research has looked at the initiatives and steps law firms are using to improve the retention of women into senior roles.
However, progress is being made by law firms to address the gender disparity between senior and junior levels with many firms now committed to fixing this issue.
The research found that:
· 60% of law firms are analyzing their gender diversity at a practice-by-practice level
· 69% of law firms have a board level representative where a significant part of their role is focused on diversity
· 60% of law firms having voluntarily added partners into their gender pay gap reporting to improve transparency
· 46% of law firms have initiatives for a representative gender balance in all pitches to potential clients
· 30% of law firms have initiatives that ensure a representative gender balance on all client teams
· 47% have initiatives to offer sponsorships to female candidates for Partnership
· 42% have processes in place to ensure that slates of candidates up for promotion are gender balanced
· 39% have initiatives for gender balanced assessment teams
Three key themes transpired from the research in which law firms see as successful in delivering and retaining women into senior roles. These were:
Make gender diversity a strategic goal
Firms should treat achieving gender diversity the same way as any other strategic goal – by appointing a board representative, openly declaring targets and tracking progress on targets.
Ensure female lawyers get sufficient client exposure and access to wide range of work
The research shows that firms that actively try to ensure that teams are balanced have the highest retention rate of women from junior associate to equity partners. But also, for firms to ensure client teams are equally representative and welcome client demands for gender balance.
Reconsider ‘women-only’ initiatives and check that mentors are giving the right advice
There are some well-intentioned initiatives that correlate with less success in improving gender disparity at senior level. The study found that “women only networks” can be damaging for gender balance however opening these up to men then has a positive effect. Mentoring programs also showed a negative correlation. Qualitative exploration suggested that advice may put women off rather than encourage them into the partnership track. Collating feedback from staff is the key to making gender initiatives a success.
In summary this means cultural change and championing initiatives that focus on fixing the workplace, not fixing women.
The full report can be found here
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Marketing Manager - Acritas
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Business Development Manager
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