In an interview with The Times last week, Christina Blacklaws, the new President of the Law Society, described diversity in the sector as not just a moral issue but a business issue.
The society is planning to publish a toolkit, which will be the basis of 100 roundtable discussions, designed to help and enable lawyers to change their workplace cultures. In her previous role as deputy vice-president, Blacklaws organised a survey which revealed that while 60% of solicitors are female, one third or fewer are in leadership roles or partners.
This survey tallies with research Byfield Consultancy undertook in 2015 in its insight report Opening up or shutting out? Social Mobility in the legal profession. This focused on the top 50 UK law firms, of which over half responded. It found that for the past decade, women have consistently made up roughly six out of ten City law firm new trainees, totaling 58% in the firms we asked, but just 24% of partners. However, 95% of respondents had in place a formal diversity and inclusion policy, and 86% of firms carried out unconscious bias training.
This shows diversity issues are high on the agenda for law firms, and we will follow with interest the impact Blacklaw’s efforts and focus on increasing diversity at senior levels will bring over her tenure.
To download a copy of our report, please click here.
"This is a problem because it is not about 50 per cent of us, but about 100 per cent,” Blacklaws says. “It is a business issue — diversity equates with profitability — but a moral issue too."