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A win for gender equality among London firms

Posted by: Laurence Simons 31/05/16

Eight UK law firms have been recognised in this year’s Top 50 Employers for Women league table for championing gender equality. The list, which is compiled annually by charity, Business in the Community, recognises employers across all sectors who ‘demonstrate gender equality as a key part of their business strategy’ throughout all levels of their organisation - including management positions.

This year’s iteration features a host of London City law firms, which are regularly criticized for lacking gender diversity in the media. Linklaters, Addleshaw Goddard, CMS, Eversheds, Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, Pinsent Masons and Simmons & Simmons all feature on the complication, which is testament to an organisation’s “commitment to creating workplaces and cultures that are inclusive of women.”

Gender equality is a concern for many professions, but the legal sector in particular frequently finds itself under fire for its lack of female representation at partner level. However the high percentage of legal firms on this year’s list is testament to the progress being made to become more inclusive working environments.

In failing to increase representation at management level, businesses are not only putting their reputation at risk, but also open themselves up to financial challenges. Following a law suit brought by 300 of its female litigators, a US company, Farmers Insurance, has committed to paying out $4m for alleged systematic bias against its female attorneys. The suit’s lead plaintiff claimed that she was demoted after inquiring as to why her pay was capped at $100,000 while her male colleagues were earning between $150,000 and $200,000. The company has also had to agree to re-address its recruitment, advancement and remuneration polices.

The presence of eight law firms on Top 50 Employers for Women for the second year in a row marks a real achievement for the profession and Women in Law, but what is clear is that that there is still a long way to go in achieving and harnessing the benefits of gender equality at the highest levels.

Tagged In: Law firms, USA, Women in Law
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