More law firms than ever are choosing to publish their employee diversity reports for all to see, however, those same reports are revealing a somewhat surprising – or perhaps not so surprising – statistic about female vs. male employment at senior management level.
Despite women being in abundance at entry level in law firms, studies have found that less than one in five UK law firm partners are female – in short, our law firms are being run by men.
Modern business means more women – eventually
The world is still a somewhat old-fashioned place, but it is changing. Young, thriving businesses with both creativity and profit at their heart will always need a lawyer but it's only now that more businesses than ever are seeking law firms that match their own values. Growing businesses strive to employ men and women equally and they want the same diversity reflected across their brand, including in the services they employ, such as law firms.
Strong women succeed
During a recent Global Law Summit in London, female additions to the boardroom was a hot topic. During the discussion, many felt that one of the reasons women don't make it to the senior management level is simply because women may have less confidence when up against male counterparts. The City has always been abuzz with testosterone and, sadly for female professionals, office banter from male counterparts is part of everyday work life. Despite many women claiming that it doesn't bother them, it's obvious that demeaning actions in the office can lead to women feeling undermined and, in some cases, reluctant to try to progress in that environment for fear of being turned down. However, as proven, one in five confident women stand up and shout and, because of that, succeed.
Sticking it out
In some cases, an inability or reluctance to rise to senior management level at one law firm is an opportunity to excel at another. Many women in senior roles have formerly worked at other firms before moving onto the firm they achieve Partner status at. Like any job, it's about finding a workplace that works and gives you opportunities to show your potential – enticing mentorship schemes are a particularly effective way to build contacts and knowledge in prep for a long-term career.
Starting a family
One of the biggest reasons women can fail to reach senior management level is, of course, pregnancy. As if you didn't know already, the time taken out of the office to have a baby and start a family can seriously impact your career, setting you back a few steps on the career ladder. That's why, if you are serious about reaching senior management level, you need to transition into your new caregiver role seamlessly while maintaining your work responsibilities. Taking a few months off work to have a baby will have little impact, however, taking a year or two out could make it more difficult to become Partner. If you want the best of both, you need to juggle effectively.
In short, if you're willing to stand up and shout and grab every opportunity with both hands, you could be just a couple of years away from a spot at the top – try it!