‘Make equality a reality, not a tick box exercise’ urge Dorset lawyers of local firms for IWD ’24

The Ellis Jones team with Catherine Beal (centre) of Soroptimist International (SI) Bournemouth.

By Daniel Face [email protected]

Published: March 8, 2024 | Updated: 8th March 2024

Ellis Jones Solicitors held a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session at their Bournemouth offices on Friday – International Women’s Day – as they encouraged local companies to tackle gender inequality head-on.

The firm itself employs 75 per cent women across its 178 staff and 21 partners, with 70 per cent of its senior associates and 57 per cent of its management team being female.

Kate BrooksKate Brooks, head of employment and HR services, said: “We’ve come a long way from the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 and the Equal Pay Act of 1970.

“However, women have yet to achieve equality of opportunity, equal representation in senior roles and comparable earning power in those businesses where the glass ceiling exists.

“Traditional views about presentism in the workplace, career breaks for maternity and childcare responsibilities are still barriers in some workplaces, which leaves women underrated and undervalued.

“It must be remembered that at minimum standards of equality are a legal obligation in the workplace.

Ellis Jones Solicitors logo“Thankfully, progress has been made at many firms, but more needs to be done through such initiatives as flexible working, enhanced maternity leave and structured career pathways to make equality a reality rather than a tick box exercise.”

It also means building equity, diversity and inclusion into strategic aims and company culture, over and above the minimum legal obligations.

This was the topic of discussion for Ellis Jones’ Lunch and Learn as they welcomed guest speaker Catherine Beal from Soroptimist International (SI) Bournemouth.

Catherine BealCatherine co-leads the charity’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) Challenge, which aims to enable, educate and empower women and girls to take their sustainable ideas from design to prototype.

She heard from a number of inspirational lawyers at Ellis Jones – Kate Brooks, Katie Taft, Victoria Riddleston, Lauren Day, Deborah Leask and Carla Brown – all of whom shared their career paths and challenges during the session.

They also discussed how the traditionally male dominated legal profession has changed, as well as how the firm supports its female employees.

“It was inspirational hearing about the successes of so many women at Ellis Jones”, said Catherine.

“Soroptimist International is proud to work with such a champion of inclusivity as Ellis Jones, whose commitment to equality shows just how much can be achieved both for a business and its people too.”

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