Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update, your digest of this week’s key legal trends, moves and developments from across the globe.
Tweet us @Fides_Search to let us know your thoughts.
1). Gender Diversity for a New Generation – Key Insights
On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession’s (IILP) event Gender Diversity for a New Generation in a Global Legal Profession – UK and US Perspectives, hosted by LexisNexis.
Six panels across the day tackled unspoken issues of generational divide, impact of intersectionality, and the judgement, stereotyping and bias against women in law firms.
Insights were given from some incredible contributors, both male and female, from private practice and in-house, who have reached levels of leadership across their firms or succeeded in the law despite great levels of adversity.
This blog post seeks to share their insight and give a fresh perspective on how to tackle gender inequality in the legal sector.
1). Impact of Intersectionality
Intersectional individuals – such as black women in the UK or Latina women in the US – face multiple challenges in the workplace, the reality of which needs to be recognised by organisations.
These two groups of women continue to be amongst the most underrepresented in the law, with retention rates and gender pay gaps within these populations remaining stagnant or actually increasing.
The most alarming aspect of this debate is that many intersectional individuals do not feel psychologically safe to be their authentic selves at work. Tales of women changing how they speak, dress, and hiding their backgrounds, interests and family lives from their colleagues in order to conform were rife throughout the day. An example given of single mothers feeling uncomfortable about attending women’s affinity group meetings is a case in point as to how diversity initiatives can fail when intersectionality has not been taken into account.
2). Mindset matters
Much has been published on the importance of having a growth mindset – individuals are more successful, more resilient and bounce back better from failure. Our mindset, or the mindset of leaders, impacts our response to stereotypes and bias. But despite this, little has been published on the impact of mindset on the culture of organisations.
“Small interventions have a big impact” according to Linda Bray Chanow, who suggests the following for law firm leaders:
- Convey that you value learning
- Recognise effort and approach of your team
- Present skills as learnable
- Give feedback as a way that promotes learning and future success
This is incredibly important for leaders and male allies who may feel they are not ‘qualified’ to sponsor women or other minority groups.
3). Just ask
A lot of awkwardness exists around D&I in law firms, especially when it comes to ethnicity and disability. Gender has become the major focus because it is easy to measure and the majority of entrants into the profession are women. But as discussed, this does not equal inclusion for the many intersectional women and men in modern organisations.
Therefore, emphasis on the day focused on being bold, making an effort, acting and learning how to interact with people different from yourself. Whether this means facilitating conversations about how to help a colleague with a visible disability with access, or a BAME lawyer about the challenges they face, if everyone in a law firm did this, it would foster the psychological safety needed for inclusion in law firms to really progress.
2). Movers & Shakers
Financial services provider Apex Group has appointed Andrew Macklin as its first-ever general counsel, less than a year after he was installed as interim head of legal at digital bank Monzo.
Joel Unruch will become general counsel and chief compliance officer for the company, replacing Chad Jerdee who has been in the role since 2015
Angela Yotov will take on the general counsel role at the bank in early August, replacing incumbent Elizabeth Lee. She joined RateSetter as the company’s first ever general counsel and head of legal in early 2016
London head Mark Rowley set to take the helm in the Middle East
Global M&A partner Tim Wilkins appointed to address client’s growing concerns about environmental issues and social responsibility
The chief executive officer of DWF‘s managed services business Anup Kollanethu is set to leave the newly listed firm
Banking and financial services partner Gerard Ng joins Eversheds Harry Elias after six years with RHTLaw Taylor Wessing
Simmons & Simmons has bolstered its tax practice with hire of Tomoko Ikawa from Big Four accountancy firm EY. She joins the firm’s London office as a non-lawyer partner
King & Spalding has hired trade partner Marie-Sophie Dibling to kickstart operations in Brussels, following hot on the heels of Cooley’s Brussels launch earlier this year.
RPC has hired Clifford Chance‘s London-based general manager Alistair Johnson, who will refinine the firm’s strategy alongside managing partner James Miller
Mergers & Alliances
Office Openings & Closings
Innovation and Technology