Enabling equality

In tweets in honour of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020, Janders Dean has been name dropping inspiring women in law, including our Consultant and Director Rebecca Ellis. We’re delighted to get a mention – as an unassuming and longstanding member of the Totum team, Rebecca is our go-to legal expert and a role-model for career success. She has also played a key role in securing many BD and marketing placements that have enabled women to showcase their talents at all levels of seniority in law. This is also the perfect excuse to talk about IWD 2020 more generally. In some ways, it is hard for us at Totum to remember that women still need to fight for representation in the working world. We have more women than men working for us at Totum. One of our three Founding Directors Deborah Gray has helped shape our business and was last year named in the Timewise Power 50 list for balancing flexible working with a leadership role. We’ve also been hugely proud to be able to support more junior members of the team to progress their careers – for example, Brook McClure who joined Totum as a Team Coordinator, and who we were delighted to support into a Consultant role early in 2019. Not only that, but our diversity statistics since 2017 show that we consistently attract an equal number of male and female candidates, nearly half of the candidates shortlisted by Totum are women, and an equal balance of men and women are now getting placed in business services leadership roles too. We’re hugely proud of these statistics, but it’s also just the way we do business.

Breaking down perceptions

We know, however, that the journey to true workplace equality is far from over. In law more widely, far too few women are making it to partnership roles – the perception remains that law is still largely dominated by (white) men and that impacts us all working in the sector, making it more difficult for us to attract new talent from other sectors. This is especially difficult when law firms are looking for a lot of new skills and capabilities to compete effectively in a global landscape. But things are changing… We were recently delighted to host a roundtable breakfast in which we discussed the rise of women in legal finance teams. Since January 2015, there have been 25 CFO/Finance Director appointments in the top 50 UK law firms – nine of those placements were women. In the breakfast discussion, there was a feeling that these numbers reflect a bigger shift as women increasingly take on leadership roles across all business services functions. But we also think there is some significance in the fact that women are now taking the top roles in finance, a function traditionally so dominated by men. Could we finally be approaching a point in which we bust for good the myth of careers more suited to men or women?

Role modelling change

With this in mind, we will be launching a ‘Women in…’ series of articles and events, looking at female role models across various legal business services functions including typically male-dominated areas like innovation and technology. We hope that by focusing on these success stories, it will be clear how women in the legal profession are now critical players in every aspect of legal business. And what’s the point of this? Supporting women into leadership roles in law won’t just help deliver better workplace equality, it will also help drive diversity in law, which in turn will improve the bottom line (research suggests that companies with more diverse management teams enjoy up to 19% higher revenue due to innovation). These are the efforts that will break down outdated perceptions of law, which will attract into the sector bright new talent and help define the legal industry for many years to come. If you would be interested in contributing any ideas/case studies to our ‘Women in…’ series, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact [email protected]