Gowling WLG has announced an increase in the percentage of its female partnership, following the launch of its Inclusion 2020 strategy.
Gowling WLG UK LLP set targets in 2016 (when female partners made up 18% of the partnership) to increase the female partnership share at the firm, with targets of 25% by 2021 and 30% by 2026. In 2017 the firm put a three year strategy - Inclusion 2020 - in place. Female partners now make up an increased figure of 20.5% of the total partnership.
As part of a wider range of programmes under Inclusion 2020, Gowling WLG has launched and implemented a number of initiatives to help and encourage more women to progress their careers at the firm. These include:
- Gender targets for each legal group;
- Board sponsorship and reverse mentoring for board members;
- Mentoring for female directors;
- Maternity coaching for those at senior associate level and above; and
- An innovative 'Family Leave Bridging model' giving greater support for lawyers set to start and return from maternity leave, featuring reduced hours targets
Andrew Witts, Gowling WLG Chairman and the firm's Diversity & Inclusion champion, said: "Inclusion 2020 seeks to embed inclusive practices into our core business processes, such as recruitment, talent management, communications, reward and engagement with clients and suppliers. In addition to providing hands on support and engagement to women and minorities, we are scrutinising the way we work as an operation to ensure we are as inclusive as possible. Whilst we know we still have a long way to go, the first results from our three-year strategy are encouraging."
Lorna Gavin, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Corporate Responsibility added: "We know we have to innovate in our ways of working to drive lasting change. Our Family Leave Bridging arrangement is an example of this. We have recognised that returning from maternity, adoption or surrogacy leave or shared parental leave can be a time of big transitions and we have reduced the time recording targets for our lawyers in the weeks running up to the leave and immediately after the return to work. We hope that this sends a signal to our colleagues that we want to do our bit to assist with an important phase of family life."
Women accounted for 50 per cent of Gowling WLG's partner and director promotions over the last two years and in addition to increasing the firm's female partnership, Inclusion 2020 has seen the firm introduce a number of initiatives to promote diversity across the working environment. These include the introduction of a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) working group, delivering a Mental Health Leadership Programme to more than 120 partners and senior leaders and the launch of Family Matters, a network to support those who care for children or relatives.
Lorna added: "The next steps for Inclusion 2020 are to ensure that we maintain the momentum we've gathered over the last year. Key focus areas for the coming year include sponsorship for women and BAME rising talent, work allocation pilots and inclusive leadership programmes."