WIPR Influential Women in IP 2019
Women in the boardroom www.worldipreview.com
Survival of the
For the most part, law firm culture operates on a
‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, with employees
hitting 60-plus hours on a weekly basis.
rmstrong says: “Many companies are
trying to address the gender gap. They’re
offering support to women, coaching,
mentoring and flexible working but,
fundamentally, there are very few addressing the
issue of total hours which, based on seven years of
interviews, is the underlying problem for anyone with
a caring role outside of work.”
In a culture where women are more often than
not the primary caregivers, this mentality can force
female employees to take themselves out of the race,
“It is unfortunate that we are yet to build a culture
that supports women and gives them the opportunity
to ‘have it all’—a high stakes career and a personal
life,” she says.
Armstrong adds that professional service
businesses such as law, consulting, and finance have
the biggest problem with hours because “people have
to hit very visible targets and win new business, so the
pressure is always on”.
“They are also hierarchical businesses where
leaders show that long hours are judged as a key
marker of commitment,” she adds.
This issued emerged in our survey, with billable
hours and a poor work/life balance being cited as top
barriers to gender diversity in firms.
Chowdhury adds that many worldwide
organisations have realised that person-hours and
productivity are not directly proportional. “‘Concise
and effective’ is the new motto when it comes to work
culture,” she says.
Unfortunately, Armstrong doesn’t see very much
innovative thinking about how to tackle the hours
She says: “No-one seems to be talking about
trying new approaches—for example, could you pilot
There is still a
if you cannot
be seen in the
office you are
not working as
hard as those
who are at their
Does your company have a
flexible working policy?
Men: do you take advantage of
Yes: 81% No: 14% Yes: 41% No: 59%
Don’t know: 5%