A government-backed review of equality in business is expected to recommend women make at least a quarter of executive posts at FTSE 100 companies.
But judging by a list of the most powerful women in the City, published by City AM, maybe it’s time law firms came under new pressure to promote women to senior posts.
As far I can see, only five lawyers made the list: Susan McLean, counsel at international firm Morrison & Foerster; Janvi Patel, chair and co-founder of external in-house resourcing organisation Halebury; Sandi Okoro, global GC for HSBC Asset Management; Jane Keir, senior partner at Kingsley Napley; and Keily Blair, an associate at Morrison & Foerster.
I’m not expecting solicitors to account for, say, half the list. But five seems like an awfully small number. (Please do correct me if I’ve missed anyone from the list.) Is it that the list doesn’t pay enough attention to City lawyers or that there aren’t enough to choose from in the first place?
The Davies Review is expected to be published in October.
It follows a review earlier in the year that showed British businesses were on track to achieving a 25% target for the number of women on FTSE 100 boards by the end of the year. However, women accounted for 8.6% of executive directors, 3% of chairmen and 5% of chief executives.
Stories about diversity often attract comments that people should be and are employed on merit alone.
At the same time, we can’t deny this doesn’t always happen.
A Law Society of Scotland report published earlier this year uncovered evidence that women solicitors were being denied promotions because of expectations they may become pregnant.
With boards getting fixed, Lord Davies of Abersoch said ‘now we have to fix the low number of women chairs and exeutive directors on boards and the loss of talented, senior women from the exeuctive pipeline’.
How soon, I wonder, before a similar review is carried out for the legal profession?