Once again we’re opening up the First Women Awards for our readers to decide which company deserves the prestigious Business of the Year title.
This time we’re looking at Simmons & Simmons, an international law firm with over 1,500 people across 21 offices. Whilst women comprise almost half of the legal profession, making partner at the same rate as men continues to be a major challenge for the sector.
Across the industry, roughly equal numbers of men and women join firms likes Simmons & Simmons at trainee level. The gender balance at this stage is largely balanced through to the managing associate level up until partnership level, where the fall out in female representation is sharp and steep.
According to 2016 company figures, women made up 48% of legal personnel at Simmons & Simmons, but only 15% of partners. As of May 2017, this has increased to 17%. The organisation is determined to rectify this both internally and across the industry as a whole.
Having committed to improving the gender disparity within the firm, Simmons & Simmons was one of the first signatories to the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter, making a public pledge to develop and implement best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion.
Today the firm is paying close attention to its associates, and up and coming talent, to ensure these groups are well equipped to be leaders of the future.
Mahrie Webb, head of the firm’s Bristol office and UK Gender Balance partner, and Joanna Perry, CR & diversity manager, told First Women that the firm has seen a shift in recent years.
“There is real momentum, buy-in and engagement. We’re doing a lot of work to make sure the right initiatives are in place to drive progress,” Perry says.
Find out more about Simmons & Simmons’ mentorship and sponsorship programmes and vote for the Business of the Year at Real Business.
Read our other six Business of the Year profiles below.