Law firm Taylor Wessing has announced a programme of initiatives to increase the level of female partnership to 25% by 2018.
The company is this week launching a Flexible Working Think Tank to review current practices, consider formal and informal arrangements and put forward suggestions for change.
UK managing partner Tim Eyles said some progress has already been made towards greater female partnership with maternity coaching, group mentoring, flexible working and unconscious bias training, but change is not fast enough.
The firm surveyed associates in June before deciding to embark on the programme. The results of the survey revealed that, while there was a positive feeling around inclusivity, improvements were needed to embed a culture of flexibility.
HR director Caroline Rawes said: “The gender imbalance occurs at the step between associate and partner level, so it’s the associates whose perceptions matter. We want to generate support for flexible working in its widest sense. It’s not just about part-time working, it’s an issue for everyone; how to balance the different responsibilities we have and to feel trusted to get the work done in the best way for each of us and for our clients.”
Alongside the think tank, the firm will be launching ‘The Big Conversation’, to try and engage everyone in the firm. This will involve small groups within business groups and practice areas, chaired by partners, where everyone can come together for discussion.
Eyles added: “This issue needs to be addressed at all levels. What are the small ways in which we work together on an everyday basis, which we can change, to ensure we bring the best out of each other and give everyone a fair share of opportunities? We hope The Big Conversation will open us all up to a better understanding of our colleagues and help us identify the small changes we have to make in our own behaviour.”
In addition, the company is introducing reverse mentoring. Partners will mentor and be mentored by associates as an additional means of sharing insight and raising awareness of different perspectives. It will also roll out unconscious bias training across the firm.
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