A recent report has shown that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has received 70 workplace sexual harassment claims in the last year alone – more than double the total number (30) received over the five years leading up to 2017.
While this rise in complaints is of concern, it does not necessarily reflect a rise in workplace sexual harassment, rather this may show that movements such as #metoo have given individuals a voice. In the workplaces of today, employees feel increasingly able to speak out – fostered by an environment of zero tolerance to unacceptable behaviour and emboldened by the knowledge that doing so is far less likely to negatively impact their career than ever before.
Every sector has been affected by the movement, with changing policies and the adoption of new day-to-day cultures. However, law firms must be particularly sensitive to #metoo. Not just for increasing scrutiny over the controversial misuse of NDAs to silence cases of sexual harassment, but also for the need to champion and uphold internal environments that reflect the laws by which they stand.
Amid the backdrop of an increase in reports of money laundering – also a feature of the same SRA report – law firms must reformulate their reputations and become more self-conscious entities. If one thing’s clear, it’s that the way in which law firms act now is a strong predictor of how they will be perceived in years to come by generations of the future.