Women in Law Pledge turns five years old aiming to promote gender diversity and hold senior leadership accountable for sexual harassment

The Law Society of England and Wales’ celebrated the firth anniversary of their Women in Law Pledge last week, stating it is important to ‘reiterate the importance of gender equality’. 

The Women in Law Pledge was launched in partnership with the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) in June 2019. Current signatories report that the Pledge has positively helped them to secure senior leadership support; acted as a catalyst for change for gender equality; and increased gender representation at senior levels.

The organisation pledged to promote gender equality by: Having one named member of senior leadership team or management committee who is accountable for gender diversity and inclusion, setting specific gender targets at leadership level and at other levels as appropriate, considering the differential outcomes for different groups of women at all levels of the organisation e.g. their background, identity and range of experiences, developing an action plan to achieve gender equality in senior management,committing at senior level to tackle sex discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace, committing to tackle workplace culture and bias that may result in differential outcomes in the workplace, making public their pledge and publishing their targets and ensuring specific aspects of pay, reward and recognition of the senior leadership team are linked to delivery against these gender equality targets as applicable.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “This week’s anniversary is an opportunity to reflect and reiterate the importance of keeping gender equality at the forefront of the conversation.

“The Pledge asks organisations to commit to seeing gender balance at all levels across the legal profession, tackling the gender pay gap and other inequalities that still affect women in law today.

“As we mark another year of the Women in Law Pledge, I urge organisations to commit to promoting gender equality by signing up to the Pledge, either as a signatory or a champion.

“Women make up 53% of the practising profession and there has been slow steady growth in women partners over the past few years. Despite this, women continue to experience barriers when attempting to reach senior levels.

“We have collectively come so far, but there is a lot of work still to be done. The whole legal profession has a role to play in creating a positive change for women solicitors and ensuring they can attain the career progression they want and deserve.”

The Pledge can be used by organisations at any stage of their gender diversity and inclusion journey as a catalyst for change or as support to build on existing activity. Law Societies, suppliers of services to the legal sector and clients of legal services providers may also sign the Pledge as champions and are in an ideal position to become active advocates, particularly during procurement or legal panel selection process.

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