The gender balance at partner level in the legal profession has always veered a little too much to one side. Even though women represent more than half of all entrants to the profession, latest Law Society statistics shows that more than 40% of male solicitors become partners, compared with fewer than 20% of women.
Firms are working hard to promote gender diversity by, for instance, introducing flexible working arrangements. But there's one way to help women climb up the career ladder that firms have perhaps not considered. One where a woman can juggle a family life and take on more work responsibilities.
Last month communications giant BT advertised a head of legal for its TV division on a job share basis. The successful applicant will work alongside the existing head of legal when she returns from maternity leave in March. They will directly manage three layers of legal staff and have a ‘leading role’ in developing BT’s legal, governance and compliance function.
As far as I'm aware, job shares for senior in-house roles are rare. Is there any particular reason why more senior roles can't be done on such a basis? As and when vacancies arise, businesses can say they will consider job shares, which may then attract outstanding parents who would love nothing more than to return to work, or aim higher in their careers, on a part-time basis.
And why leave it there? Why not apply job shares to law firm management or senior partner positions? By not ruling out job shares, you significantly widen the pool of candidates, and that can only be a good for diversity - and business.