Revealed: females make up less than 10 per cent of top 100's equity partner ranks

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  • Anon @ 11:43
    I am not assuming that PQE should be a sole determining factor but likewise it should not be completely disregarded. If you are made partner at 8PQE then 2-3 years is a significant chunk of your career (during which your skills and knowledge will continue to develop).
    If, despite this discrepancy, an associate is a better candidate than someone with more PQE then of course they should be the preferred candidate.

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  • Catherine | 24-Oct-2012 6:02 pm
    You seem to be suggesting that women who have had years off and/or working at part capacity should still be made up at 7-8PQE. Why on earth would/should a client pay the same high partners' hourly rate for someone with only half (or less) the experience? This is utter nonsense and I would never support it (am a male mid level associate, so not some old dinosaur). On the other hand, women who have made it to 8pqe but with breaks should not be at a disadvantage against those (male and female) who have worked constantly. That I agree with.

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  • Professional service firms generally (accountants and actuaries as well as law firms) have always rewarded the traditional ambitious-male model of working insanely long hours and bringing in insane amounts of money. Some women also choose to do this, whether or not they have a family, although from my observation, the majority who do, do not have any caring responsibilities (sorry about the generalisation and, yes, I am a woman who balanced working full time with rearing a family and I made it to FEP).
    Unless professional service firms grasp the nettle of working out how people who don't follow the traditional model (both men and women) can be rewarded with equity status (if they want it) because they bring something other than shed loads of money to the party, nothing will change. In my view, it's an issue that is not restricted to women, although it's a more obvious problem for women.
    There's no reason why the "something other than money" criteria shouldn't be as tough and challenging as something that often ends up with a wrecked marriage, estranged children and non-existent social life. I doubt it will happen, to be honest. SMART objectives are easy to apply to tangibles like billable hours and winning new clients. They are almost impossible to apply to intangibles.

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  • Good point by anonolady. I agree, men and women do tend to feel more comfortable doing business with their own gender. This currently may impede the potential of women to build their own client base, which is unfair. However, similarly, hr departments tend to be largely, and often solely comprised of women, who look more favourably on female candidates. Around 2/3 of trainees are female.
    Therefore, if there should be quotas for female partners, should there also be quotas for male trainees? Or does discrimination only work one way?

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  • @Anonymous | 25-Oct-2012 2:19 pm
    At my firm, HR may organise trainee recruitment but they don't make the recruitment decisions, the partners do. I can honestly say that we simply do not get as many applications from male graduates. We would like a 50:50 split but there are not enough male candidates. Is this discrimination?

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  • If you get fewer applications from men and therefore you take on more women, that is no more discrimination than a firm where more men fit the criteria of partner, bill suffient hours and bring in work, and are therefore made up. Either both the fact that there are more female trainees and that there are more male partners are discriminatory or neither are. It is not logical, an more than a little hypocritical to say there being more male partners is a problem that needs to be addressed through intervention, whereas there being more female trainees isn't.

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  • Am I right in thinking that the 'Proportion of female equity' is based on a percentage of the total partners overall rather than the number of equity partners?
    If so isn't that slightly misleading? For example if only 20% of partners are equity partners then the figures sound much worse than they actually are. If a firm with 100 partners had 20 equity partners, and 8 of the equity partners were female then the appropriate figure for the above table would be 8% despite the fact that 40% of equity partners are female.

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  • Anonolady @ 3:40pm
    If you apply the logic of some of the commenters then this is just as discriminatory as failing to have a 50/50 equity split. Apparently it is only the statistic that counts so you should just hire more men until you have equality at trainee level.
    Also, the fact that you are failing to attract male trainees obviously means that your recruitment process and/or firm environment discriminates against young men and you should be making more of an effort to fix this (beer tents at job fairs, booze cruise sabatticals for men etc).

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  • @anonymous 3:50
    The factors that are applied to our recruitment policy are not discriminatory - in that they do not favour either men or women. The male and female applicants have an equal chance of getting the job, it just so happens that less men want that job. Can we honestly say that the factors that affect promotion to partnership are not discriminatory? Do we honestly think that women have the same chance of making it to partner but they just don't want to? If that is genuinely what you believe, then may ask you why you think they aren't making it or don't want to? Are they workshy, incompetent or do they love their children more than men? I believe that later in a woman's career, she faces more difficulties delivering the things that the male partnership value because she has less opportunities to network and bag clients. I honestly don't think that quotas are the answer but is there not something in between?
    @anonymous 4:32 Personally I would have enjoyed a beer tent at a job fair. Top idea!!

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  • It's been suggested over and over again that women face unique obstacles and should therefore have unique advantages, or at least have the obstacles neutralized.
    I find it rather winy at best. Are there baby caring issues that are unique to women? After birth I think not. Why then is not, in a unsubstantial way, men being encouraged to take on those issues as well. We all know that fathers are no less interested in caring for their children but have obstacles in their way, such as being forced to work those extraordinary hours, hobnob with potential clients who they are forced into social relationships with but wouldn't want to call friends, and possibly worst of all degrade their priority for spending time with their own children.
    Is the issue of why men are not being given real choices balancing family and work life being given the same equity scrutiny that the current issue seems to find over and over and over again?
    Such a discussion would help resolve both problems I believe.

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