from melting point to boiling point

Think of making partner in a law firm as reaching boiling point. Different substances have different boiling points - the difference in boiling point from tap water to sea water is only 0.7 degree, but if you have ever waited for salted pasta water to boil, you know what that extra 0.7 can feel like. Now imagine an extra 0.7 effort to fill your partner ranks with women.


how hot is the water?

If you answer these questions about career level and gender at a high level, don’t spend time on an extensive survey of what you already know. Where are you losing women? Where are they going? Who is replacing them?

  • Gender breakdown career level - what does it look like?

  • Gender turnover by career level - is it different between PQE 3 and PQE 9 ?

  • Does the turnover pattern change for those who take extended breaks (more than three months) for any reason - sickness, travel, sabbatical, parental leave?

  • Are there differences by practice group or office location?

Gender pay gap

Next look at your gender pay gap. Few firms take a systematic approach to analysing their gender pay gap. You can’t fix what you don’t know. A gender pay equity analysis can be a practical first step. The NSW Women Lawyers Association have excellent resources in their 2018 Law Firm Comparison Report (link with their logo to the left). Important lessons are being learnt in the UK legal market. For a good summary click on the gender pay gap table to the left.

From good intention to valuable resource.

Use the fundamentals of business strategic planning to move from good intentions to competitive advantage through talent. It’s an oldie, but a goodie - how much of your talent mix and gender strategy builds a workforce that is Valuable, Rare, Imperfectly Imitable (hard to copy) and Non-substitutable (hard to replace). It’s called the Competitive Power Test and it sees women as holding these capabilities and skills for competitive advantage - not because it’s a nice thing to do. Cupcakes and puppies are nice, gender parity is smart business. Pressure is coming from in house counsel and it is impacting their panel decisions.