Law Society president proposes targets to get women into management

Firms need to have targets to improve the number of women in management roles, the president of the Law Society Lucy Scott-Moncrieff has said

Speaking at the Law Society and the Interlaw Diversity Forum last night, Scott-Moncrieff unveiled a series of recommendations aimed at improving gender diversity across the profession. These include introducing gender targets and embedding flexible-working practices in corporate culture.

Despite concerted efforts by some firms to improve female representation in management, the Law Society said the profession was hiding an “uncomfortable truth” that some are paying mere lip service to flexible working.

“In some firms, where the opportunities for those wanting to strike a balance between high-flying work and family life are still scarce, men dominate the boardrooms,” Scott-Moncrieff said. “Unwittingly, these firms may be losing talented women and promoting mediocre men.”

Firms including Ashurst, Eversheds and Hogan Lovells have already introduced targets for the number of women in high-level positions.

Eversheds wants a quarter of its partnership to be women by 2016 (25 October 2012), while Hogan Lovells set a 10-year target to improve its partner gender balance, aiming for a 25 per cent female partnership by 2017 and 30 per cent by 2022.

In November last year The Lawyer revealed that female partners remain a minority at top UK firms, with just 23.5 per cent of all partners and 9.4 per cent of all equity partners across the UK’s largest 100 law firms by revenue being female (24 October 2012).

Nevertheless, the picture has improved over the last five years, with female partner headcount increasing by 27.4 per cent at the top 100 firms since the 2008 credit crisis (25 October 2012).

Scott-Moncrieff said: “An increasing number of firms have genuinely embraced and adopted modern flexible-working practices, allowing better work-life balance. These firms are attracting more talented women and men with boardroom potential.”