I am writing in response to analysis of the SRA diversity survey relating to the progress of women. I appreciate I may be in a minority of one, but I have frequently felt frustrated that there is an assumption in the survey that every female non-partner has a problem with that situation.
Nowhere does the survey ask: are you happy with your position within the firm? Do you feel discriminated against on grounds of sex? Have you been offered partnership – and refused it? Or perhaps the most basic question – do you want partnership?
I am a mature entrant, nearing 18 years’ qualified, and work part-time in a small high street firm. I am not a partner. I have pretty full autonomy over how I conduct my hours, files, clients and so on, and give extra when I can for my own peace of mind.
Have I been offered partnership? Yes, three times, in different firms. Do I seek it? No.
I took a conscious decision to retrain as a solicitor. But I did not decide that I wished to run my own business, which in a small high street firm is what partnership entails. I decided to prioritise my main job – being a mother – and enjoy working part-time as a solicitor (mainly within school hours).
Why should that be a problem? I am not at all old-fashioned and have not been discriminated against. I have my own mind. Yet I am no doubt lumped in with the statistics on ‘under-achieving’ female solicitors.
I am ‘achieving’ perfectly well by balancing work/life and my personal goals as I wish – thanks, I should add, to some astute partners (mainly male) in various firms who appreciate that retaining good staff requires treating them as individuals and meeting their needs flexibly.
Name and address withheld on request