DRIVING GENDER EQUALITY THROUGHOUT THE CAREER LIFE CYCLE
Amandeep Khasriya - Senior Associate at Moore Barlow and Founder of Women Back to Law
Discussions on gender equality are climbing high on the agenda in all areas of public and professional life, including the legal sector. The positive news is that there has been real change – in the 1970s, just 10% of new entrants to the legal profession were women; now nearly 50 years later, that figure stands at just over 60%. As a standalone statistic, you would be forgiven for thinking that all diversity targets have been reached. However, we must not lose sight of the barriers to career progression for women within law.
According to the 2020 Solicitors Regulation Authority Report, a survey of law firms in England and Wales revealed that while women make up over 60% of new entrants to the legal profession, they represent only 33% of partners.
Despite the steps being taken at entry level, there is still a vast gap in opportunity further along the line. For example, in 2020 the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reported that only 33% of partners in law firms were female - the highest it’s ever been. Further, the percentage of women in equity partner positions in law firms currently stands at just 16%. According to the Women’s Business Council Report published in 2018, at the current rate of progress, it is anticipated that it will take until 2043 for women to achieve gender balance in leadership across all industries. As a female lawyer from an ethnic minority background, the disadvantages are even starker.
At my firm, Moore Barlow, we have introduced a number of measures that have had a positive impact on gender equality throughout the career life cycle of our employees. For example, having attended the Law Society’s Women in Leadership roundtable, we developed and launched our own Women in Leadership in Law Group. As a result, we are now championing inclusivity and driving gender equality from the very start of employees’ careers - all the way to leadership roles.
First created in April 2019, with the aim of addressing equality, diversity and inclusion across the whole business, this group represents a cross-section of the firm including those at different seniority levels, and across genders and ages. We are acutely aware of the importance of involving men in the group as male champions, in order to achieve lasting change. The group members meet regularly to ensure that we have a good understanding of the issues faced by women in the profession and that gender equality is factored into all current and new policies. We have also introduced initiatives such as compulsory gender representationon our internal pay and promotions committees, meaning that important decisions impacting gender equality are made by a diverse group of people.
We are now championing inclusivity and driving gender equality from the very start of employees’ careers - all the way to leadership roles.
As my firm values gender equality, we will continue to build on our progress, enact change and create a diverse and inclusive law firm. Having established employee groups and equality initiatives, we are now working collaboratively across our firm to bring about positive change. We recently celebrated a gender diversity milestone, with women now representing 52% of all equity partners.