It’s been shown repeatedly that diverse workplaces make business sense (McKinsey made the point in its “Women Matter” report back in 2007; a World Economic Forum blog by Vijay Eswaran repeated it in April this year). Yet there is still a long way to go before big businesses will be in a position to challenge the “pale and male” stereotype. The business of law is no stranger to that label. As regards gender equality, the consultancy “20-first” has produced research showing that of the top 10 UK law firms, only one has 30% female partners and therefore (just) makes it into 20-first’s “Progressing” category (the other nine are either “Asleep” or “Starting” to make progress).
The Law Society’s International Symposium on “The power of gender equality to transform the business of law” took place on 20 and 21 June and was the launch event for its “Women in Law Pledge”, which aims to tackle gender inequality in the legal profession. A message which surfaced loud and clear throughout the two days of Symposium discussions was the power held by law firms’ clients to “move the needle” on this issue. I was also struck by how much support the usually divisive subject of quotas received from both panellists and attendees.