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Reflections on International Women’s Day

March 2020

What does International Women’s Day mean to us?

Sunday 8th March marked International Women’s Day, an event which recognises and celebrates the achievements of women around the world. All as part of the global efforts to advocate gender equality. This year, we took the opportunity to reflect on what the day meant to us; both as individuals, and as part of the legal community.

Our sector has historically been considered one which is dominated by men, and male interests. We recognise that this impression – which is often wrongly legitimised by the language used by companies – has for too long discouraged women from entering the profession, and must be challenged.

Recent reports have shown that things are changing in this regard. In The Law Society’s 2018 Annual Statistics Report, it was found that women were now making up a significant majority of new admissions into the profession. At 50%, the number of working female solicitors in England and Wales now exceeded men for the first time. These stats point towards some positive change for the sector, and could do well in encouraging young women to consider the profession.

Whilst we don’t wish to discredit these stats, we believe we can do better. We strongly believe in going beyond inclusive recruitment practices by creating a workplace culture that values women and their talent. To gain a closer insight into life as a successful female lawyer, we spoke to two of our Senior Associates about what International Women’s Day means to them.

Katherine Zangana, Senior Associate who joined us as a Trainee Solicitor in 2009, said:

“Whilst the profession is making progress, there is still a long way to go. Businesses need to ensure that female representation at senior level is reflective of the number of women who are now entering the industry.

“International Women’s Day is a brilliant way to raise awareness of the issues concerning gender equality in the workplace and beyond, however, it isn’t a substitute for direct action and real and meaningful change.”

Nisha Saigal, Senior Associate who joined us in 2015 and brought with her strong background in commercial property matters, comments:

“International Women’s Day offers the perfect opportunity for everyone to reflect on how they can be more inclusive. Because diversity means very little without inclusive company cultures which make women feel as though they belong, rather than as a box checked.” 

“Women have so much to contribute to the workforce and firms only hurt themselves by failing to challenge bias and create inclusive spaces. It is essential for all individuals and firms to do their bit to support all of their colleagues with their professional development, and this includes a thorough understanding of the barriers women face. We’ve done incredibly well to advocate gender equality over the past decade and am hopeful we’ll see even bigger changes this year.” 

At Lawrence Stephens, we are committed to nurturing and empowering the women who form part of our team into leadership roles. As we grow as a business, ensuring our culture, policies and approach to growth reflects this commitment will be paramount.