Law firms urged to back gender parity pledge

02 June 2023

A leadership expert is calling on Birmingham law firms to demonstrate their commitment to abolishing the gender gap within the sector by signing up to a pledge.

Despite light being shone on the lack of women in senior leadership positions in the legal industry,  only 31 per cent of partners within UK law firms are female.

That’s why Rebecca Mander, CEO of Henley-in-Arden-based leadership coaching business GuruYou, wants every law firm in Birmingham to sign up to the ‘Women in Law Pledge’.

Rebecca’s call for action comes from a place of experience and knowledge, as she coaches multiple females within the Midlands law profession.

She says the top reason for those women wanting to work with her last year was career progression and trying to overcome the many hurdles females face to progress in their careers, versus their male counterparts.

Rebecca (pictured) said: “If you think the ‘old boy’s network’ is dead and buried, then think again.

“According to the Profile of the Profession report in 2018, 145 women compared to 246 men were encouraged to apply/invited to partner level.

“This outdated system clearly is not helping inclusivity and a more rigorous approach to promotion is key to retaining women in law.

“If we consider as a given, that women are more likely to lack confidence or suffer with imposter phenomenon, then naturally they are less likely to speak up in meetings, assert their thoughts around career progression or ask for a pay rise.

“The horrific truth of the matter is that, as they have spent so long being interrupted and passed over for promotion, they truly don’t feel as valuable as their male counterparts.”

As a successful female business entrepreneur who specialises in coaching in the legal sector, Rebecca is on a mission to ensure women in the Midlands don’t leave law because they face too many barriers.

Rebecca added: “I’m privileged to have coached some incredible lawyers who give me an insight into their professional and personal worlds and the challenges they experience. Career progression is one of the most talked about concerns for these women.

“It led me to try to influence change so I spoke to some leaders of top UK law firms to get insight into the solutions some of our city’s firms are offering in order to bring equity to our profession.”

The business coach raised the issue with key influencers such as current Birmingham Law Society President, Tony McDaid, who is keen to look at what more can be done to achieve gender parity in the sector.

Rebecca’s research also revealed some Midlands firms are embracing the need for gender party such as Shoosmiths, which has a High Performing Women Programme for female partners as well as a Gender Parity Network.

The other reason her female coachees often leave the profession is the desperate need to achieve more of a work/life balance.

Research shows the vast majority of female law workers are working beyond their contracted hours.

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