WIPR Influential Women in IP 2019
www.worldipreview.com Women in the boardroom
Throughout this publication, we have cited the
importance of role models.
Victoria McLean, founder and CEO of recruiter
CityCV.co.uk, agrees. “We need visible role models—
senior women as partners or in other management
roles, leading deals or leading firms. Structured
mentoring programmes and sponsoring of talented
junior women also helps them progress up the
ladder,” McLean says.
Mentoring, championing and leadership
development programmes are just some of the
initiatives our respondents highlighted.
“Champion women by actively looking for reasons
each year to promote them rather than wait for them
to come forward to ask for a promotion (which few
ever will),” claims one respondent to our survey.
They went on to advise: “Another important
action would be to take away decision-making powers
regarding promotion from those women in senior
roles who like to ‘talk the talk’ about promoting
women, but who certainly don’t ‘walk the walk’.”
Another respondent issued a stark warning. “My
previous employer did nothing other than to form a
diversity and inclusion committee that did nothing
to advance the cause,” she said.
“The employer did, however, issue an annual
gender diversity report, but it masked the problem in
that the reports always appeared balanced in terms of
the number of male and female employees, but most
of the women (>90%) included in the count were not
in decision-making senior roles, whereas many of the
men (>70%) were in decision-making senior roles.”
Ai-Leen Lim, CEO and principal counsel at AWA
Asia, adds: “Another tool in aiding diversity is the
Private practice: does your organisation
have a diversity and inclusion policy?
recognition and mitigation of unconscious bias.
Such bias in the workplace remains a barrier to career
advancement/progression for women.
“Corporations that engage in mitigation through
recognition, transparency and accountability can
help to lessen and ultimately remove this bias in the
Finally, since parental leave and flexible working
have such a significant effect on the working lives
of parents, and others, those are covered separately.
Targets and quotas are also addressed below.
Whose responsibility is it, anyway?
One thing is clear: law firms need to fully embrace
diversity to reap the benefits.
“An organisation that understands at its core that
flexibility is not a concession but a simple adjustment
to the known way of doing things is the kind of
organisation that will be able to create radically diverse
policies because they recognise that there is more than
one way to be productive,” says Chowdhury.
The culture must be promoted from the top and,
as it makes its way down the hierarchy, it should be
reinforced at every turn.
Majumder adds: “Not only is the culture
something that needs to be promoted from the top, it
must in particular be embraced and welcomed by the
senior male members of an organisation. If men in
positions of influence and leadership can be allies and
champions for diversity and inclusion then the cause
is significantly strengthened.”
Respondents agree, with a number suggesting that
partners need to show a serious commitment. One
respondent claims that while their firm has a strong
formal diversity stance, “informally however there are
a number of male and female partners who openly
scoff at gender initiatives”.
Another adds: “Gender diversity and equality is
more than writing policies and organising events. I
think there needs to be constant reinforcement that
is positive, as well as education.”
Beasley believes that the challenge for law firms,
many of which are partnerships, is that it’s not enough
for the managing partner or members of the executive
committee to take a leadership position on diversity
and inclusion or to rely solely on programmes and
For law firms to truly make progress, says
Beasley, “individual partners need to understand the
important role they play in creating a more diverse
and inclusive culture both for their direct teams and
for the organisation as a whole”.
“They then need to take action on a daily basis—
spotting and tackling unconscious bias, being
aware of the different leadership styles they can use
to motivate and lead and, at a practical level, being
supportive of agile and more flexible ways of working
to retain and develop talented team members through
different life-stages,” he concludes. l
can help to
remove this bias
in the workplace.
Ai-Leen Lim, AWA Asia