As a qualified lawyer it is of particular interest to me how, even in the world’s leading law firms attitudes towards working practices are so archaic.
Take for example, the response to me returning from maternity leave and daring to ask to finish on time in order to be able to pick up my 11 month old baby.
In my return to work meeting, chaired by a white, middle-class male Partner who had his own children taken care of by his wife and nanny he gently informed me that my decision to become a mother was career suicide as
“why on earth would anyone instruct me on a job, when my male peer was still sat in the office”.
Bear in mind, that I was a non-contentious construction lawyer, where matters move at the pace of a sloth. How downright rude of me to expect that because I was raising the next generation of solicitors (or not ) that I couldn’t expect the juicy jobs to be handed over in the morning.
Needless to say I didn’t return to work after maternity with apring in my step.
That’s all rather depressing, but it was 7 years ago so I am sure things have changed somewhat?
It would seem not.
The most recent research by the Solicitors Regulation Authority was published in 2017 and reports that there has been a large increase of females into the profession.
Despite this, and the fact that black, asian and ethnic entrants onto the role are also massively increased there is no surprises for guessing what the majority of Partners look like.
White and male.
If you are white and male, the probability of you becoming Partner – and therefore holding the most power, influence and income – is 75%
Your chances of making partner if you are black, asian or ethinic female? 13%.
High street law firms are most likely to promote ‘the other’ (non white, non male) but of course high street law firms don’t offer the same remuneration packages. This means the wealth that corporate partners get, with the associated lifestyle, retirement funds, and wealth creation for their children simply does not exist in the high street firms.
Given that corporate law firms account for 70% of the Partner population, and 75% if that is male, it is fair to summise that women, white and other, do not have access to the rich pickings.
2019 marked 100 years since women were allowed to practice and while it is mind-blowing that just a ‘blink of an eye’ ago, women were fighting for their right to have access to a profession that represents 50% of the population, it is even more mind-blowing that after 100 years of proving our worth in this career, we still don’t have equal access to the top jobs.
Women in the Law UK have recently published a charter to assist some of the brightest minds in the world – corporate firm lawyers – how not to be prejudice against non-white males.
This is STILL needed?
I have no words.