8 City firms make workplace gender equality employer power list

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Top outfits recognised for creating workplaces and cultures that are inclusive of women — but what are their partner diversity stats like?


The 2016 ‘Top 50 Employers for Women list’ has been unveiled with eight City law firms making this year’s cut.

In recognition of organisations that strive to create workplace gender equality, the list features corporate players from finance, banking, retail and — most importantly — law.

Compiled in partnership with The Times newspaper and the charity Business in the Community, this year’s list features a host of City outfits which have “demonstrated that gender equality is a key part of their business strategy” across all levels of the organisation.

Linklaters, Addleshaw Goddard, CMS, Eversheds, Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, Pinsent Masons and Simmons & Simmons have all made the 2016 list, proving their “commitment to creating workplaces and cultures that are inclusive of women”. As the Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows, all have partnerships made up of over 20% women, except Simmons & Simmons, which has just 14% female partners.

This is the second year running that eight law firms have featured in the top 50. Olswang, Norton Rose Fulbright and magic circle outfit Freshfieldswhich all featured last year — failed to make the 2016 list. All of these firms have a significantly higher proportion of women partners than Simmons & Simmons.

Kathryn Nawrockyi, gender equality director at Business in the Community, said:

Huge congratulations to all 50 employers on being named in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2016. The process was highly competitive so they should all be extremely proud of their success. Each company has demonstrated a commitment to fundamentally changing workplace processes and cultures to make them inclusive to all, benefitting women and men at every level in their organisation. I hope they inspire other employers to do the same.

Despite the commitment to gender diversity, women continue to struggle to make partner at the same rate as men. Earlier this week magic circle firm Linklaters — that feature on this list for the third year running — revealed that from a 10-strong round of UK partner promotions, two were women. Over all Linklaters has 24% women partners — the highest figure in the magic circle alongside Slaughter and May.

This followed the news that silver circle outfit Macfarlanes — which late last week proudly trumpeted six partner promotions — had singularly failed to elevate any women thereby missing an opportunity to improve its lagging gender diversity stats.

One alternative model law firm, Obelisk Support, also made it to the top 50. The firm is behind the First 100 Years project which celebrates women in the law.



“Despite the commitment to gender diversity, women continue to *struggle* to make partner at the same rate as men”

Is there an equal % that are actually *trying* to make partner? This is a key point that is never addressed in these articles. It’s impossible to know for certain how disparate the promotions are without first knowing the portion that want or try for one.


Here here old bean

I completely agree. I believe the majority feel that as ‘making partner’ is the high point of a career as a solicitor, it is de facto what every young solicitor desires. But, that is clearly not the case. I know of a number of students who do not nor ever will dream about making partner as the stress, work and simply motivation are too great.


New wave femme something

While it is interesting to consider that women are held back from ‘top’ positions, it is worth stating the legal profession is or should be a meritocracy which can take years to climb. It can take about 10-20 years to make partner (hold any meaningfil experience) and 30-40 years to become a judges. Women may make up about 65% of both the solicitor and barrister professions but this is a recent development, the change has occurred in the last ten years or so. Therefore, anyone with reasonable intellect would understand that in order for more women to hold the higher positions it will probably take another 10-30 years. But of course women will end up dominating the top roles. The next 10-30 years will fly by, and then there will be articles such as this one for men with it stating how women count for 70% or so of all legal roles.

Before anyone commitments ideas to the contrary, think about this: most top QCs, judges and partners qualified when women made up less than 20-30% of both professions and at a time (only 20 years ago mind you in the 90s) when women were still seen as mothers and second class to men. Moreover, women who attended universty were less than 30% and most have never done anything with their degrees. Even with these factors, women still account for at least 30-35% of the top roles now. Now try and argue against this: that as the % of women in higher education reaches ever closer to 70% in the next 20 years they will not dominate the top legal roles.



Because the only way to measure a firm’s success in this area is about partnership opportunities and percentage of female partners?

How about policies/process that impact the thousands of staff at the firms mentioned in this article who are not even lawyers and whose demographic usually has a higher proportion of women to men?



Has Katie quit?



Is Thomas Kelly Katie King’s new pseudonym?



Connelly even.


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