Women accounted for 50% of partner and director promotions at Gowling WLG over the past two years, the international firm has said in an update to its progress on meeting gender targets. The firm is one of several City outfits to try and take action to address the lack of female representation at the top of the profession.

Gowling said its partnership is now 20.5% female, up from 18% in 2016 when the firm said it wanted its partnership to be 25% female by 2021 and 30% by 2026. 

Other City firms making efforts to improve the diversity of top management have reported mixed results in recent months.

Taylor Wessing said last year that its goal for 2018 (25% female partners) would not be met and that it would pursue a long term strategy instead. Magic circle firm Allen & Overy, which wants females to make up 30% of partnership promotions by 2020, also pledged action after its 2017 promotions round saw just two women out of 24 promoted (8%). In 2018, the firm again failed to meet its targets with two women out of 20 (10%) making the grade.

Linklaters however exceeded its gender target for 2018. In March, the firm promoted 27 lawyers of which 10 were women (37%). In 2014, the firm said at least 30% of new partner promotions going forward would be female. Last year however, just 19% of appointments went to females.

Away from its long term target, Gowling has also set up a strategy called Inclusion 2020 last year which includes gender targets for each group in the firm, a reverse mentoring scheme for board members and a programme offering support for lawyers set to start and return from maternity leave.

Lorna Gavin, head of diversity, inclusion & corporate responsibility, said: ‘We know we have to innovate in our ways of working to drive lasting change. The next steps for Inclusion 2020 are to ensure that we maintain the momentum we’ve gathered over the last year.' Key focus areas for the coming year include sponsorship for women and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff, she said.