Today (8th March) marks International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, which aims to accelerate gender parity.
This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme of #ChooseToChallenge is a call-to-action for driving gender balance to help create an inclusive world.
With 61% of the firm comprised of women, Bishop & Sewell is committed to equality and diversity and is a part of the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter.
She said: “Women are well represented in law in the early stages as they study at university or undergo their training contract, but this gender balance is often lacking from the upper echelons of management boards and partnerships, as it is in so much of the economy.
“We still seem to be having conversations about the “missing women” who leave the profession for various reasons and do not go on to achieve their potential within the sector. The challenge is to make it easier to allow these women to progress in their career. A lot still needs to be done to tackle issues such as discrimination around maternity or pregnancy or pay equality.
“International Women’s Day means a lot to me as a vehicle for raising awareness of women’s issues. At a fundamental level it is important for any subordinate or minority group to receive public recognition of the challenges they face, and although one day of the year is not enough to bring about the changes necessary, it can serve as an important reminder that inequality exists and that women experience this inequality relative to men in most societies.”
Rhian Radia joined Bishop & Sewell to head up the employment team in 2019. She has a City background and over 19 years of experience practising employment law, specialising in a range of areas including equal pay claims, grievances and unfair dismissal.
Rhian continued: “As an employment law specialist, my cases remind me every day about the problems women face at work, from being paid less than men to being made redundant or marginalised when they come back from maternity leave. One of the aspects of my job I enjoy the most is tackling injustice and discrimination and I want to support employers in treating their people kindly to achieve the best for both the company and the person.
“I was lucky enough to be able to work flexibly after having my sons and this was a game changer, as it enabled me to balance my job with my role as a mother. I have also been lucky to work in firms which promote and support their women. However, this is not the situation for many women, and I act for many female clients who cannot benefit from such fair and progressive policies.
“The Covid pandemic has forced lawyers, as well as many other employers, to embrace flexible working patterns and to be responsive to change. Although it is tragic that coronavirus has been the catalyst, it certainly appears to be the case that employers are more forward-looking and willing to accept and adopt flexible working practices. This can only help women managing work and children, and indeed everybody who wants to work on their own terms and to have more freedom.
“Work is not a place to ‘go to’ in my opinion, it is a role to be performed which can, for many jobs, be delivered in different places. Who knows, we may all end up happier if there is a culture shift which embraces choice and flexibility.
Rhian would advise young women who are thinking about training as a Solicitor “Do not undervalue yourself. Be brave about having your voice heard. Channel your inner Ruth Bader Ginsburg”.
“We should all embrace this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #ChooseToChallenge and call out instances of gender discrimination. There is no place for complacency and we must all play our part in helping forge positive change for women at home and abroad.”