For the past 50 years, I have listened to career-minded women lawyers complaining that they want to return to their previous job after having children, but they are put off by:
- Presenteeism, meaning the demand to be in the office from early morning until late at night.
- The pressure to trade down to more flexible and less-demanding roles in the backwaters of their firms.
- A lack of role models. Women look up the greasy pole leading to partnership and do not like what they see.
At 35, women are 60% of the profession. But just as you might expect them to start winning the argument, they disappear from the arena.
If I was a woman, I would sack the lot of them – that is, those who have responsibility for leading women in the battle for equality who have never succeeded in inspiring those they represent and have been unable to reach the aspirational women out there required to build a broad coalition.
Also, I would have a go at those women who have succeeded in getting to the top of their firms – who have got the access, the influence and the power to change things – who have pulled up the ladder behind them and done too little to help.
Christopher Digby-Bell, London W1