Creating a better gender balance
Within A&O, we have a strong representation of women in leadership positions:
of our elected board members are women
of our Executive Committee are women
of our Risk Committee members are women
of our People & Performance Board are women
However, like most professional services firms, women are under-represented in our partner numbers. Currently, despite having around 50% female associates globally, only 18% of our partners are women. One of our key strategic priorities, therefore, is to achieve better gender balance at the top of our organisation.
In 2016, we launched a new gender strategy and established a Gender Advisory Committee to oversee action and progress. Since then, we’ve worked harder to understand the real barriers that women face, and have introduced measures to identify our best female lawyers earlier on and track how effectively we’re developing them to become future leaders of the business.
All our offices and practice groups now monitor our pipeline of female talent and report twice a year on progress. We have also developed an Emerging Female Leaders programme that identifies high potential women who are sponsored to take leadership positions and be active role models within A&O.
While a key aim for us is to increase the proportion of women in our partnership, our gender strategy is not solely focused on lawyers. We know the same barriers can exist for women in the workplace whatever their role, so many of our initiatives are designed to benefit support staff as well as lawyers, for example:
- Reverse mentoring, in which senior partners are mentored by more junior lawyers and support staff to give a broader insight into A&O
- Unconscious bias training
- Reviewing and, where necessary, improving maternity, paternity and parental leave practices internationally, and providing parental transition coaching
- Encouraging more people – support staff and lawyers alike – to take up flexible working options
We know it will take time to achieve roughly equal proportions of men and women at the top of our business, but our gender strategy is designed to provide visibility and accountability for making progress every year until we get there.