It stands to reason that more women in leadership roles can lead to a higher intake of female applications and improve the organisations that they worked within. However, based on the Law Society’s 2018 statistics, from the approximate number of 30,000 partners in private practice, only 28% are women, while 72% are men. Gender inequality is still an issue, even though it has been proven that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a huge advantage to organisations.
So what can be done to help get more women into leadership roles, and do organisations need to reevaluate their learning and development (L&D) programmes?
Here are our key tips on helping more women into leadership roles:
Allow more women to have a voice in your organisation.
Encourage internal conversations with senior management.
Educate all employees on interactions with colleagues and personal development.
Implement C-Suite training on recruitment, attaining talent, and diversifying teams.
Encourage the open, honest dialogue of reports with their managers.
A great starting point would be for organisations to revaluate their L&D programmes to incorporate training on the points covered above.
Mentoring is an important development tool for anyone, and more female-to-female mentoring can make a real difference for those on the leadership pathway. Mentoring can encourage and give confidence, but in many cases, the glass ceiling still exists. This can be a complex discussion point, with many variables, but narrowed down, the obstacles normally contain these four areas.
A lack of inclusive promotion from within.
Little of no development of female employees.
A small number of female mentors.
A lack of education regarding diversity.
Offering flexibility: private practice and in-house
Flexibility can be an interesting topic. More and more candidates are asking us whether in-house is more flexible than private practice and it was in fact, the no.1 question searched throughout in 2018. The frustrating answer to this hot topic is that flexibility completely depends on the business and their approach to culture– it is not sector specific and it certainly should not be considered a gender-weighted practice. We find that flexibility is completely subjective – there is no approach per sector.
There are fairly antiquated responses and views of flexibility traditionally, that it relates directly to working from home.
There is an increased shift towards high trust, high performance environments and the presenteeism attitude of old is decidedly less attractive. Typically, people want to be in the office with their colleagues and business stakeholders, so what a lack of flexibility actually represents is a perceived lack of trust. Private practices and businesses need to think about what the culture of an inflexible work environment implies about their attitude towards their employees and how this makes their staff feel.
More must be done in to help improve the gender balance within the legal sector particularly at the senior level. Having women in key leadership roles inspires others, and brings additional benefits. One of these benefits is that having more women in leadership roles will normalise the ideal – the more women we see at C-suite/partnership level, the more ordinary it will feel to juniors, both men and women, working their way through the ranks. Education at all levels is key to this shift. We need to get people from C-suite to entry level recognising that diversity is a major factor to success. With education, we need to change the dialogue relating to flexibility. Flexibility is not a gender-specific topic nor does it directly link to low performance, it relates to high trust. Addressing these key areas will bring a strong and natural balance to the structure of a business, breed positivity, and promote an open culture that drives for success.
To discuss how we can help you find the right people for your business, please get in touch with your local Page Personnel office today.