Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co has promised to increase the number of women in its partnership from 20 per cent to 30 per cent by 2026, after figures reveal the firm lags behind its merger partner Gowlings.
As well as setting the 10-year target Wragges also announced an interim target to increase female partner levels to 25 per cent by 2021. Women currently make up 20 per cent of the partnership, but this rises to 50 per cent at director level and 55 per cent at associate level.
The diversity figures are significantly lower than Wragges’ Canadian counterpart Gowlings, where 27 per cent of the firm’s partnership are women. Gowlings’ figures surpass the Canadian average of 20 per cent and over half of the firm’s offices are led by women.
Wragges will also introduce a number of diversity-focused initiatives this year including an agile working scheme, which will allow members of the commercial litigation team to work from home for one day every fortnight. A new mentoring programme will also be rolled out as well as inclusive leadership workshops.
The target applies to Wragges’ partnership, which will remain financially separate from Gowlings’ when the two firms merge under an umbrella structure.
Speaking to The Lawyer early this month Gowlings co-chair of diversity Neena Gupta said that part of the firm’s focus on increasing diversity within its workforce came from external sources such as general counsel and Crown Agencies.
Wragges chairman and diversity champion Andrew Witts said: “We’ve a real responsibility to our people and to our clients to promote all forms of diversity which is why we’ve implemented a variety of innovative programmes. Adopting gender targets is another important way in which we hope to lead by example, not just in the UK but across all jurisdictions in which we work.”
In 2011 Wragges launched a programme called More Women, which introduced unconscious bias training, maternity coaching, agile working and network and development events. These initiatives were available for both employees and clients.
Despite the firm’s efforts its diversity figures are still lower than the average female partnership levels across the top 200 UK firms. According to data published in The Lawyer’s UK 200: Diversity Audit 2015, women make up 23 per cent of the partners within the UK’s largest 200 firms. Although an increasing number of firms have pledged to increase diversity within their workforce the report also found that the figure is the same level as it was five years ago.