Women in Leadership in Law

Women in Law Pledge

Commit to creating a more equal legal profession for all

The Women in Law pledge, launched in partnership with the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) in June 2019, was created to bring gender equality to the forefront of the conversation.

There is a role for everyone within the legal profession to enact positive change for equality and we encourage all legal service providers, in-house teams and individuals to sign up.

By signing up to the pledge today, you're committing to setting high level targets to make a difference for gender equality either within your organisation, or as an advocate, and champion, for change.

These do not have to be policies or practices you currently have in place, but should include those that you wish to implement. See the guidance for more information.

What will the pledge do?

By signing up for the pledge, you or your organisation is committing to:

  • supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the profession by focusing on retention and promotion opportunities
  • setting clear plans and targets around gender equality and diversity for your organisation

How do I sign up for the pledge?

To commit to the pledge, download the submission form (Word 280 KB) and return via email to the Diversity and Inclusion team at diversityteam@lawsociety.org.uk.

We’ve created easily implemented tips for gender inclusion. These can all be introduced digitally and show a thorough dedication to equality.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. It’s excellent if you’re already making a start on ensuring men and women are treated equally, offered equal opportunities and paid the same for the same roles, but there are more ways you can ensure positive change within your organisation. We will offer guidance and support to help you develop policy and culture changes which will contribute to gender equality even further.

If you feel there are very few extra changes you can realistically make, making the commitment is still vital for progress to happen across the whole sector. Sharing not only your commitment, but current policies and your plans to build on them, means your organisation can act as a role model and inspiration for the rest of the profession. This is just as vital to ensuring real, meaningful change takes place for gender equality.

The insight you have into your organisation’s policies, culture and inner workings is crucial to developing impactful goals. We believe that this understanding is one of the key components for realising real progress, so we have intentionally not been prescriptive about the contents of these aims.

We encourage you to set targets which are realistic and appropriate for your organisation. We recommend they include a mix of numerical goals, such as percentage of partner split and timescale to achieve this, and cultural goals, like flexible working policies and implementing staff networks, which also address intersectionality and inclusivity within your organisation.

Further suggestions and examples can be found in the accompanying guidance.

We understand it can be challenging to get senior buy in for new projects. We recommend first deciding how the Pledge can be complementary to both your gender and diversity and inclusion workplan, and how it may be easily integrated into it.

For example, some signatories have simply transferred their existing short and long term goals for gender equality into the Pledge. They have then used the Pledge as a tool for accountability in achieving these goals, since the Pledge is a public initiative. This has created little to no extra work for those leading on the Pledge and can be helpful in demonstrating how the Pledge can help you succeed.

If you have offices based in England and Wales and also international locations, you can still sign up from your UK based office. This excludes Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We do not currently support international signatories (including Scotland and Northern Ireland) under the Women in Law Pledge, but we're planning to do this in the future.

You may include targets within your submission which impact all global locations of your organisation – for example, percentage of female partners across all of your offices.

No. Submissions are only seen by relevant internal staff at the Law Society and are not shared externally or made publicly available.

The only documentation which we require you to make public are your targets and action plan. You should publish this on your website within two years of signing up to the Pledge.

If you wish to share your submission document, you may do so, but it is not compulsory.

You’ll receive an email confirming we have received your submission along with an outline of what signing the Pledge means.

As explained within the accompanying guidance, our Diversity and Inclusion Team will then contact you six months after your submission. We will ask you to complete a form showing the changes you’ve made to improve gender equality in your organisation.

This will be followed by a similar review at 12 months where we will also ask you to send us your completed action plan so we can offer guidance and suggestions before you publish it on your website. 

You will need to publish your targets and action plan within two years of committing to the Pledge.

We think disclosing your organisation’s commitment to the Pledge is beneficial for a number of reasons.

Within your organisation, it’s a clear message that you have pledged to improve the environment for women within the profession and are committed to gender equality.

Some signatories have posited their Pledge targets on their internal intranet. This is an easy and effective way to make all staff aware of what’s on your gender agenda.

You may also want to share why you felt it was important to sign up to the Pledge and what effect you hope it will have on your employees and your organisation.

As stated in point 7 of the Pledge, we ask that you make public that your organisation has signed up. You may do this in the way best suited to your organisation.

All signatories are shown on our Women in Law Pledge webpage and we announce all new signatories on our Diversity and Inclusion Team’s Twitter page. You are welcome to share either of these. 

You might like to add the following text to your website or share it on your social media channels:

“We are proud signatories to the Women in Law Pledge created by the Law Society, the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). Our organisation is committed to the progress of gender equality, elimination of gender discrimination and pledges to make positive change for the legal profession.”

We understand that progress and change can take a long time and often even longer to ensure it’s done correctly.

When reviewing your submissions we will not be focusing on measuring what your organisation has achieved. Instead we will be looking at areas you have found challenging and will offer support and guidance to allow you to overcome these challenges.

The review process does not include a marking structure of any kind and we will not be using this process to compare signatories’ submissions.

If you already have a suitable template you could use, please feel free to do so.

Alternatively, you can download our template (Word 280 KB).

Guidance on effective action planning is provided in the Women in Law Pledge Guidance (PDF 1 MB).

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