Each for Equal: Is diversity in the legal profession really 20 years away?

Each for Equal: Is diversity in the legal profession really 20 years away?

Our recent Aspire event for young in-house counsel was hosted on Wednesday 4th March at Lexis House in Farringdon, London. Around 50 young in-house lawyers gathered to network, share a drink and listen to speakers on current hot topics.

We heard from an expert panel around gender equality and diversity issues, including Christina Blacklaws, and her equality research with The Law Society, Mary Bonsor, CEO at F-LEX and Nnenna Ezeike, Head of the Employment legal function at Marex Spectron. Also speaking at the event, was Angela Henshall of the BBC’s 50:50 project, as well as Samantha Skinner and Ian Watson from Amazon’s legal team.

Each for Equal

Our Each for Equal panel discussion at the event coincided appropriately with International Women’s Day.

This period often reignites discussions around equality in many industry sectors—of which the legal profession is no different. Many men and women continue to band together to address the concept of unconscious bias in the workplace—a topic which was given a clear focus at our event.

Panel member, Mary Bonsor, CEO of F-LEX, began discussions by stating that although progress has been made, the imbalance of women in the profession remains a key challenge for businesses.

She highlighted that at the start of the career track, the legal cohort comprises 60% women, whereas towards the end, we are seeing just 20% of female lawyers advancing to the senior level.  

In an interview with The Law Society Gazette, last month, Dana Denis-Smith of Obelisk Support stated that many women working in the law remain sceptical about the pace of change around diversity. Only 2% of the respondents felt there is ‘true equality for women’ and an alarming 80% of women predicting that it ‘would take at least 20 years to achieve’.[1]

The glass ceiling?

From the numerous research studies that have been conducted on this topic, we know that diverse workplaces are far more effective than those that aren’t. [Fig. 1] In spite of this, many women still feel gender is a ‘barrier to advancement’. [Fig. 2]

[Fig. 1 & 2]

 

Men were still seen to dominate at the top with 52% agreeing that it is still easier for men in their organisations to achieve a promotion than women. Less than half felt women were fairly represented in the senior management of their organisation.
'Gender discrimination is rife,' explained one partner. 'The "boys' network" remains in full force, excluding women from networking oppor

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About the author:

Amy leads the thought leadership and content strategy for LexisNexis UK. Her work appears in LexisNexis' marketing campaigns, industry press and legal industry magazines. She is an established writer and researcher, having contributed in national publications, such as City A.M. and Financial IT. She is also one of the writers and digital editors of LexisNexis' insights blogs, the Future of Law and the In-house blog.