Jackson Boyd is celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD). Following on from our article ‘With Great Companies Comes Great Social Responsibility’, not only are we celebrating it but we are focussed on what we can do to achieve genuine equality for women.
It is important to acknowledge that the UK does have some of the best equality laws in the world but, unfortunately, the positive objectives of these laws have not (yet) fully translated into genuine everyday equality for women.
We read the International Women’s Day (IWD) articles and we see the #IWD18 hashtags, but what is IWD? More particularly, why as a firm of solicitors should we care about IWD?
To address the first question, IWD is used to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history. It was first observed on February 28 1909, changing to 8 March by 1910.
The second question has already been answered in our previous article, “We follow our firm’s motto of ‘more than just’, and we know that it takes more than just law to advance equality in society.” In our firm the issue of women’s equality most frequently arises in our employment department. We regularly advise and assist clients who have: been discriminated against on the grounds of their sex; been dismissed because they are pregnant; and not been paid equally in line with their male counterparts.
The above issues are not infrequent; they still happen, every day. As a firm, we both highlight and challenge the issues, including the sexual harassment and discrimination women still currently face in the workplace and the action required to tackle the gender (and ethnicity and disability) related pay gap.
Interestingly, speaking as a firm of solicitors, in Scotland the legal profession now has more female than male solicitors. This is reflected from Jackson Boyd’s perspective; there are 5 female trainees to 1 male (sorry Drew!). However, whilst this is encouraging, the figures published today by two of the UK top 50 law firms show the average UK hourly rate for women in one firm being 17.3% lower than men. A clearer picture will emerge after 4 April 2018 (companies with more than 250 employees in the UK have to report their gender pay gap to the Government Equalities Office (GEO) by this date). However, more still needs to be done to address the challenges faced by most women (and some men) in relation to career progression to allow firms to retain talented people who are seeking to balance career with family commitments.
Jackson Boyd will continue to represent women’s equality issues, both for our clients and in our CSR commitments. On both our visits to schools for career events and during our tutoring sessions for the Mock School Project we frequently hear from girls who think law is a man’s world: we will continue to disperse this assumption and encourage girls that law is not just a profession for males. We will continue to volunteer at law clinics by assisting the underrepresented, including women, pro bono.
At Jackson Boyd we actively promote inclusion, diversity and equality. We are excited about the CRS work we are doing in 2018, including for women’s equality, and the impact our staff have already made. If you would like further information about CSR at Jackson Boyd, or would like to get involved, please contact PBradshaw@jacksonboyd.co.uk.