Nicola Critchley: Nurturing talent is vital to closing gender gaps

It may come as no surprise that the issue of gender diversity and equality in the legal industry is on a par with the experiences that women face in most traditionally male-orientated sectors.

However, data published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in February 2018, based on information from 180,000 people working at 9,000 law firms across England and Wales, shows that women are slowly but surely catching up with their male counterparts.

Nearly half (48%) of all solicitors, and a third (33%) of partners, are now women. Ethnic diversity is also steadily improving, as one in five (21%) are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) background. As with most sectors, though, there is still more that can be done.

There are many ways that firms can get involved to promote the talent of all their employees and nurture the skills that they already have. Providing a focused platform that inspires individuals is key to achieving that.

At Horwich Farrelly, we have vowed to continue to support women throughout the firm via our Network of Women (HF Now). The primary aims of this new group are to provide support, careers advice, training and wellbeing, driving initiatives that promote inclusion for all.

While we have been mentoring and coaching employees for many years, positive feedback demonstrated that we needed to combine this support into one platform. The key motivator being that everyone one can learn from each other, sharing personal experiences and advice to create a positive and truly inclusive working environment.

It is, however, crucial that firms do not just implement one change and expect a boost in gender equality; it is an ongoing process. Firms also need to recognise that meaningful change takes time, and that no single action will automatically close any gender or diversity gaps.

Nevertheless, positive advancements can go a long way, no matter how small. Once a business establishes its main aim, it can use this as the key driver to ensure equality, inclusion and diversity across all areas.

Horwich Farrelly is committed to finding and nurturing the very best people, with the clear objective to develop and retain the skills across our workforce which help to provide exceptional client service. Our latest initiatives support that aim by empowering women who are looking to succeed and progress in what was a typically male-dominated industry.

Nicola Critchley is partner and head of costs at Horwich Farrelly