Global firm urges peers to shift dials on women in business

Following five bold ideas will create better opportunities for women to become leaders by 2020, the firm says

Global firm urges peers to shift dials on women in business
A global law firm, in collaboration with business leaders and equality advocates, has published a report outlining five approaches that enhance opportunities for women to move into leadership roles in businesses.

Baker McKenzie, working with Women’s Agenda, recently hosted a roundtable at its Brisbane office and has now published “5 Bold Ideas for Shifting the Dial on Women in Business By 2020.”

The report outlines the discussions between the participants, who are all leaders in businesses that are connected to the legal industry, where gender inequity is a particular problem, especially in the upper echelons of the profession. All participants were asked to vote on specific steps businesses can take to further promote the careers of women in the next couple of years rather than later.

The business leaders said that cultural expectations should be shifted through conversations, which includes encouraging conversations about life outside work, diversity, lessons or challenges, and flexible working arrangements.

They also suggest shifting corporate culture through pressure and influence, where formal policies and general encouragement from the management teams of organisations and the wider community can translate to improved diversity. One step clients can take is to require suppliers to share specific diversity statistics. Firms can require recruiters and head hunters to present a diverse candidate pool.

Organisations themselves can shift the numbers by providing specific targets and key performance indicators. The leaders encourage businesses to set targets for elements of the business that are easily monitored and make leaders accountable for those targets and KPIs.

Another concrete step firms and businesses can take is to undergo a pay audit. Resolving pay gaps could be achieved by allocating budgets and identifying whether there are fair opportunities to negotiate for pay and if gaps are emerging as early in the recruitment process.

The business leaders also propose that mid-level women should be given more chances to be heard and recognised. This can be done by creating more formal sponsorship programs for mid-level women, giving their profiles and stories more visibility, and establishing leadership programs.

“You can tick the boxes on a number of things, but if we can’t change the culture, we’re not going to see much change,” said Anne-Marie Allgrove, Baker McKenzie partner.

Related stories:
Swelling UK solicitor ranks becoming more diverse – study
Women GCs making gains at Fortune 500 companies

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