Macfarlanes ups focus on flexibility

Macfarlanes has expanded its flexible working policy as it continues a push to encourage more female lawyers into the upper echelons of the firm.

Nicola Richards
Nicola Richards

Partner with responsibility for diversity Nicola Richards – featured in The Lawyer Hot 100 2011 ­supplement – said ­encouraging women to go for partnership was one of her objectives when she took on the job at the beginning of last year.

“I looked at this from the perspective of ­trying to get more women into senior positions,” she said, “but it shouldn’t be available only for women, otherwise you end up making special arrangements [for them].

“What’s important is that this sends a message that working flexibly is no bar to partnership and you’re not a second-class citizen if you work flexibly.”

The new policy, which allows all fee-earners and support staff to apply ­for flexible working arrangements to suit their requirements, was introduced shortly before Christmas.

Previously the option had only been officially available to parents and carers, with other staff taking on flexible working arrangements on an ad hoc basis.

Richards has also initiated a pilot scheme in her own corporate department designed to help female associates make better use of business development opportunities.