As part of its commitment to greater gender balance and inclusion, Travers Smith is delighted to mark International Women’s Day. Acting as an opportunity to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, the day serves as a reminder that gender inequality persists across the globe. As COVID-19 continues to affect lives and livelihoods around the world, we can already see that the pandemic and its economic fallout are having a regressive effect on gender equality.
A recent report by the UN Women’s Policy and Programme Division demonstrates the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls, including the impact on extreme poverty, employment, health, unpaid care, and violence against women and girls.
Here in the UK, a report by the Fawcett Society indicates that 35% of working mothers say they have lost work or hours due to a lack of care childcare. The report also highlighted the disproportionate emotional toll. 43% of working women saying they are worried about their job or promotion prospects due to the pandemic, compared to 35% of employed men.
Travers Smith will be exploring these issues in greater detail at a panel discussion where people from across the firm will be sharing their experiences of lockdown and views on how COVID-19 has exacerbated inequality for many women as well as people from minority groups.
The firm has made some progress in addressing gender balance, particularly within its partnership. For example, over the past five years, 44% of partner promotions have been women.
In addition, the firm continues to develop initiatives and policies aimed at helping create a more inclusive and equitable workplace. Some of these endeavours include:
- Delivering a series of role model events for female lawyers at the firm to help illuminate career paths for other women at the firm, and to support them in developing their professional networks.
- Inclusive language in all of our people policies, recruitment literature and job descriptions
- Enhanced interview and other firm-wide training to increase awareness of unconscious bias and allyship
- Supported by a specialist external consultancy, an ongoing review of our graduate vacation schemes to ensure they promote diversity of talent
- Scrutiny of all compensation decisions to ensure independent review of outcomes
- Parental leave transition coaching to support those in their first year of parenthood
- Review and revision of our alternative working policy with specific reference to how we support individuals to make arrangements work, and how we remunerate lawyers, regardless of their gender. We have also explored the interplay between agile working and formal alternative working to support consistency in treatment
- Increased facilitation of mentoring relationships across the firm
- Ongoing commitment to the influence of our Diversity & Inclusion Board to support future initiatives at the highest level
Travers Smith Senior Partner, Kathleen Russ, commented: "Gender balance is gradually improving in business and in the law. But further change is needed. No one person can make all the necessary change happen. But, that isn't a reason to stand back. If all of us use our influence to make the small changes happen, real momentum for change will build and greater gender balance will slowly result. I believe that business and law are on the right path but we have further to go."