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I understand what Michael Martin is saying but would like to ask the following questions:

1. Do you tell male colleagues that they look nice? If you wouldn't then you are treating women you work with differently to men, albeit without any intention to cause offence.

2. If you are in charge of women in your place of work then do you really think they would be able to freely tell you if you made them feel uncomfortable? It's extremely important to be aware of the imbalance of power and not take advantage of it.

My experience of working at law firms included:

1. Regular, unwanted comments about my physical appearance. This was mostly from partners at the firm. It made me feel utterly undermined and desperately unhappy as I was an ambitious young woman and did not expect to be treated that way by people who were supposed to be upholding the law. I only ever wore trouser suits because of how self-conscious I was about comments. I worked hard to qualify and expected to be judged on my work not my sex / what I'm wearing / my figure. Is that too much to ask?

2. Unwanted sexual advances, again from the same couple of married partners. I repeatedly and vehemently said "no" and firmly expressed my displeasure. When I spoke to the managing partner he advised me to avoid them which simply was not possible. He had no interest in tackling the issue and just wanted to get me out of his office.

Apart from the sexual harassment, women at two firms I worked at were treated as lesser people than the male employees, regardless of ability. Never mind that we'd had to work so much harder to prove ourselves than a lot of the men there (I wonder how the partner's son got that training contract?).

I left the legal profession and went to work at a bank, where I was treated much better, it finally felt like something approaching a meritocracy.

I know numerous other women who have been treated appallingly at law firms.

I would urge partners to be scrupulously objective in how you assess performance, show the women who work for you that they are part of a meritocracy where hard work and ability will be rewarded.

Give women (and indeed all staff) the mechanism to report concerns at work and ensure that they will be taken seriously. We have got to end the culture that allows a member of staff to be treated badly, then effectively punishes them by forcing them out of their job.

Impose sanctions on the wrongdoers. A partner who repeatedly harasses staff is toxic to the business and should have no part in a law firm (apart from as a defendant utilising its services).

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