Women in Law Pledge: Profession marks four-year anniversary
The Law Society of England and Wales today marks four years since the Women in Law Pledge was launched to bring gender equality to the forefront of the conversation.*
The Pledge** asks organisations to commit to seeing gender balance at all levels across the legal profession, tackling the gender pay gap and other inequalities that still affect women in law today.
Since the Pledge was launched, there have been positive signs of progress. Workplaces have started analysing their pay gap data in greater detail and publishing further data on partner pay. Steps have also been taken to ensure the gender diversity of newly appointed partners through recruitment/promotion targets and creating action plans to address inequality.
“The four-year anniversary comes at an important time for the profession,” said Law Society President Lubna Shuja.
“In December 2022 we marked 100 years since Carrie Morrison was admitted as the first woman solicitor in England and Wales. Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes, Maud Crofts and Agnes Twiston Hughes (the first Welsh woman solicitor) have also paved the way for all the women who have followed them to practise law in England and Wales.
“We know, however, that we must continue to work collectively to enact positive change for gender equality in the profession.
“Women make up 53% of the practising profession and there has been slow steady growth in women partners over the past few years. Despite this, women continue to experience barriers when attempting to reach senior levels.
“The profession is losing brilliant solicitors who have much to offer senior leadership because many women are being prevented from reaching their full potential.
“Unfair allocation of work, unfavourable promotion structures, unacceptable work-life balance, and the lack of visible senior women role models need to be addressed if we want to see women in law thrive.”
As we look to the next 100 years of women in the profession, the Law Society of England and Wales is calling for organisations to:
- Sign up to the Pledge and show collective public commitment needed for change to happen
- Use their own data to set ambitious, yet realistic, goals considering individual positions, resources and other business priorities
- Adapt and embrace those who take career breaks, work in non-traditional ways (part-time, flexibly, job shares) or who have less linear career paths (returners, second careers, sector moves)
Notes to editors
* The Women in Law Pledge was launched in partnership with the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) in June 2019.
** Pledge signatories commit to a range of actions such as senior level accountability for progressing gender equality, setting clear gender equality action plans and targets, and supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the profession by focussing on retention and promotion opportunities.
Signatories report that the Pledge has helped secure senior buy in on initiatives and increased internal and external engagement and focus on gender issues, resulting in a positive impact on culture within their workplaces.
The Pledge can be used by organisations at any stage of their gender diversity and inclusion journey as a catalyst for change or as support to build on existing activity. Law Societies, suppliers of services to the legal sector and clients of legal services providers may also sign the Pledge and are in an ideal position to become active advocates, particularly during procurement or legal panel selection process, for example.
About the Law Society
The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.
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