International Women’s Day takes place on Thursday 8th March; with this year’s theme #PressforProgress – a call for economic gender parity to be realised more quickly than the current 217 year prediction published by the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report.
Here at Ratio Law, we have been thinking about International Women’s Day and what it means for us as a business. Our two founding partners, Gisella and Joanna are both female, and both practising commercial property law – an area still frequently associated with male practitioners. Gisella’s expertise in property finance is particularly unusual for a woman.
Whilst we are extremely proud of the work we do here, and our achievements (we’ve grown pretty steadily in the 7 years we’ve been in operation), we agree that there’s more to be done to enable women in the law (and across other professions) to earn the same as their male counterparts.
A key consideration needs to be flexibility and openness – particularly around the matter of children and childcare. Women need to be able to talk freely about what they want from their role (both professionally and at home), and have the freedom to try to make those preferences happen – whilst at the same time balancing the needs of a business, and its ability to remain profitable and competitive. We also need to recognise the needs of women who don’t have children, ensuring their differing needs and ambitions are recognised and rewarded appropriately.
In addition to flexibility and openness, we need to acknowledge the role that sexism can play in business, and try to recognise when we are being subjected to it. Easy to say of course, but perhaps more difficult to tackle in practice. Although the coverage of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been an eye opener – has anything really changed as a result?
We recognise that on a day-to-day level more needs to be done to continue to #PressforProgress across society as a whole, but in ways which do not negatively effect business or become excessively onerous. Whilst we are fully supportive of the fight for gender parity, it must not become a ‘tick box’ exercise – that doesn’t benefit anybody.
We believe that creating our own business has enabled us to level the playing field somewhat, and we are hopefully passing that entrepreneurial spirit onto the next generation of lawyers, through Emma our legal apprentice!
So we will raise a glass (or, more likely cup of tea!) in a toast on Thursday to International Women’s Day, as we believe it’s a great initiative. However, we also welcome practical solutions to enable change and bring about gender parity to more women, more quickly.