Thu, 23 May 2013
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Diversity still a distant dream
A polite response is "tosh".
I don't believe that the majority of female lawyers cease to be interested in career progression once married and with children. I am married and have children and I am interested in progession and so are the majority of my friends. We didn't waste time studying and moving up the ladder to throw it all away just because we have a husband and children.
However, one of the reasons many women appear to take their foot off the pedal and accept that progression to partnership is not for them is that they do not believe that their firm will promote them, particularly where there firm does not look kindly on flexible or part -time work or they do not see any female role models who have made the work/life balance fit with being a partner or indeed where there have few female partners at all.
Time and time again I am told by friends at big firms that their only female partners either have no kids or work all hours and never see their kids and that is not what they want.
Law firms have to shape up and do more to keep their women and to support their women. After all, we all have long careers in front of us these days. It's crazy to lose good lawyers because you refuse to support your people make work fit with the rest of their commitments.
If your firm is flexible and treats you like a grown up and supports you, whilst not getting in the way of client services, then that loyalty will be rewarded.
Whether you agree with promoting diversity or not, from a business point of view it makes absolute sense - there is no point spending lots of money on training female trainees if they do not progress and having a diverse workforce is what clients expect (many of whom are streets ahead of firms) and you can lose points on pitches if you are not diverse in your bid team.
Anyway, I hope that this makes firm act (as well as simply tick boxes when it comes to diversity)
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