Gender Equality Awards 2016: Inclusive Leader Award: Gender Champion - Pinsent Masons LLP

Linda Jones, Partner

Award Type: 

Motivate
Although Pinsent Masons recruits more women than men at graduate level and promotes men and women in equal numbers up to senior associate level, this is not reflected in the partnership or senior leadership team. Linda raised these concerns with the senior leadership team in 2012 and assembled a steering group to investigate the causes of the disparity and put recommendations for change in place.
Linda worked with the steering group to develop a three-year plan of recommendations to address barriers to female career progression. The recommendations were accepted by the Board in April 2013.

Act
Linda established a target for female partnership of 30%, with a first milestone of 25% by May 2018. She expanded the steering group to include stakeholders from across the business including the LGBT and BME networks.
The group has worked on a series of new measures, including:

  • Unconscious bias training
  • Raising awareness of agile working to focus on performance and delivery
  • Reciprocal mentoring for 15 senior male leaders and more junior female employees
  • ParentsMatter@PinsentMasons portal to minimise career disruption of time out on family leave
  • A new approach to career pathways to develop a more flexible approach to career progression
  • ‘Comply or explain’ policy within the promotions process
  • Fixed term appointments for leadership positions and establishing a Nominations Committee to ensure the widest possible range of candidates are considered for senior roles

Linda’s team includes a high proportion of flexible workers, including senior male lawyers. It was the first team in the firm to adopt the agile working protocol Linda developed, which has been cited as a strong reason for retaining and recruiting team members. Linda also worked on implementing Shared Parental Leave regulations, including introducing enhanced pay for shared parental leave and advising clients on the new regulations.
As Head of Employment, Linda discusses diversity with clients in a business context and has set up a diversity forum for clients to discuss issues confidentially. She has also supported, mentored and encouraged women at all levels to fulfil their career potential.

Impact
Pinsent Masons now has 22% female partners and female board representation is 33%, up from 11% in 2013. The Remuneration and Partnership Committee now has 50% female representation, up from 15% in 2013, and regularly reports on the gender diversity of the promotions pipeline. The firm has also recruited its first female finance director.
At Linda’s suggestion, each practice group head has committed to a specific action plan to achieve the 25% target and reports on progress to the Senior Partner twice a year.

Linda advised and influenced the formation of a constitution where senior leadership posts will be held for a maximum of two fixed terms, creating opportunities for more women to be appointed. A Nominations Committee has also been set up for appointments into senior leadership posts. Over 30 key clients have met with Linda to discuss gender diversity initiatives and share best practice, and she has spoken on the firm’s activities at two GEO conferences.