A leading general counsel has called for the introduction of gender quotas to boost diversity in the law.

Rosemary Martin (pictured), group general counsel for Vodafone, said quotas were ‘deeply offensive – and I think it’s absolutely essential’.

‘If you really want to make change, you need a law,’ Martin said. ‘Do not expect people to do it out of the kindness of their hearts. You need to force it.’ Martin was speaking on how innovation and diversity can shape the legal profession.

‘Because it’s change, it’s painful,’ Martin said. ‘Let’s not make it more painful for more and more generations. Let’s make it painful for our generation.’

However, employment lawyer Dame Janet Gaymer, who also participated in the discussion, said she was not persuaded of the merits of introducing quotas.

Gaymer, who was Commissioner for Public Appointments in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010, said: ‘At the end of the day, it’s a competitive process and you want the very best person for the job whether they’re male, female, ethnic minority or disabled.’

The discussion was part of the First 100 Years project, created by legal business Obelisk Support, to celebrate the journey of women in the profession.