Dame Sue Carr – Defining Success for Women in Law

22 November 2023

Redkite – An example to be followed?

Dame Sue Carr

Dame Sue Carr is the first woman in history to hold the office of Lord Chief Justice. Dame Carr was sworn into the post with effect from 1st October 2023.  There are long standing and established laws relating to both equality and diversity in England and Wales. These laws continue to evolve and some may be surprised to hear that Dame Carr is the first woman to serve as the Lord Chief Justice – particularly given that the office’s inception happened as far back as the 13th century.

Dame Carr has spoken about her experience in the legal sector and how she has led a successful career while raising a family. As well as being a successful lawyer, Carr is known to be a role model for women in the legal sector.  In an interview in 2020 with Wycombe Abbey, she stated:

“On a more personal level, I would say that I have found mentoring other women very rewarding. Diversity and gender equality are matters close to my heart. I am proud that my husband and I have both worked full-time at demanding levels in fulfilling careers and at the same time managed to raise three pretty happy and healthy children.”

In the same interview with Wycombe Abbey, she stated:

I think that it will be a bright if complex future for young women. There is a much healthier understanding of diversity issues; the challenge is to put all the good intentions into practice.”

The statistics for the legal profession

Dame Carr’s historical appointment has demonstrated a huge leap for women in the legal sector.  Statistics in recent years demonstrate that the number of females in the legal sector has increased.

The SRA law firm diversity data (2023) for England and Wales states that 61% of solicitors are women. There is also a high percentage of women in “other staff” roles, with 75% being female. However, despite these high figures in favour of women, it is important to note that diversity issues are still present. There is still room for improvement where partner appointments are concerned, with just 35% of partners being women. More women are entering the legal profession, and it is hoped that the number of women being promoted into senior roles will increase.

What are law firms doing to improve diversity? What does Redkite have to be proud of?

The Law Society, in 2022, introduced the Women in Law pledge, which was designed to bring gender equality into discussion amongst law firms.

Since the pandemic, the number of law firms introducing flexible working has increased. Redkite has prided itself in promoting flexible working for all of its employees. Redkite has a Flexible Working Framework in place, where it allows the majority of its staff to adopt hybrid working, where they work both from the office and from home, according to their routine or home demands.

The Flexible Working Framework encourages staff to flex their working schedules in order to create a better work-life balance, whilst still meeting the needs of their clients and colleagues. This has proven to be particularly supportive to parents who alter their working hours or days to allow for every-day necessities, such as the school run or childcare. Redkite also encourages feedback from its staff through engagement surveys, interviews, and forums to identify any areas for improvement. Staff are asked to provide suggestions on what can be done to make working life easier for them. Whilst the legal sector has been known to be criticised for not truly embracing all of the “fair” policies they have, Redkite is proud that it is renowned for encouraging employees to engage in a positive working culture.

Redkite has 32 partners in total in the firm, of which 21 are female partners equating to a 65% female / 35% male split. This is higher than the statistics from some of the world’s largest law firms, with some of them having increased the overall proportion of female partners from less than or about 20%, to closer to 30%, in the past 5 years (Financial Times, 2023). Redkite adopts a modern approach to career progression and runs a transparent promotion process twice a year, giving all staff a fair and equal chance to progress their career. Applications are seen across all departments and include legal advisors, senior legal advisors, trainee solicitors, Associates, Partners and Business Services roles.

Redkite is also a big supporter of women’s health, raising awareness to all staff regarding issues women face in every-day life. The firm has recognised World Menopause Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and International Women’s Day. In addition to the progressive approach to flexibility, the firm offers support to all of its staff by providing access to the Health Assured app, which includes practical guidance and useful information regarding topics such as endometriosis, menopause, childbirth and general mental health.

Whilst Redkite cannot say they have perfect solutions to all situations, the firm is committed to continue listening to their people and is determined to support all colleagues who want to pursue a legal career, despite any difficult external challenges they may face.

This article was written by Redkite Solicitors,  Jessica Davies. To find out more about Jessica Davies and the support that she can provide to you, visit her website profile here https://www.redkitesolicitors.co.uk/team/jessica-davies/.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.