Gender targets are trendy, but they are also essential

More power to gender diversity initiatives, as Linklaters gets on board

Did Pinsent Masons think it would be a trendsetter when it adopted gender diversity targets in March? They are certainly a must-have now.

Linklaters is the first of the magic circle to adopt the initiative. By 2018 it wants 30 per cent of its executive committee and 30 per cent of partnership promotions to be women. 

Last week Ashurst got on board, with ambitions for women to make up 40 per cent of partner promotions by 2018 and a quarter of management posts to be handed to women.

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is targeting a 30 per cent female partnership, setting an interim goal of 25 per cent within three years. And Pinsents? It is targeting a 25 per cent female partnership by 2018.

So what is the present situation at these firms?

At the 2012/13 year-end Pinsents was home to 72 female partners out of 364 – 19.7 per cent. It has some way to go in promotions, too – just three of the 15 promotions this year went to women.

Herbies fares slightly better – eight of its 23 promotions were female – 34.7 per cent, though 87 of the 450-strong partnership at the year-end were women (19.3 per cent).

Legacy Ashurst closed the 2012/13 year with 33 women out of 242 partners and 20 per cent of the 15 made up were women.

At Linklaters, 68 out of 442.1 partners were women – 15.4 per cent – but it outperformed the group by adding nine women to the partnership out of a total 21 (42.8 per cent).

This must not be a fad – the initiative is a necessity.