Law firms’ FTSE 350 clients demand gender diverse legal teams

updated on 20 July 2018

British FTSE 350 businesses expect the law firms they instruct to have gender diverse partnerships, but have a shocking lack of women in their own senior leadership teams, new research reveals.

A report by diversity organisation The Pipeline has found that businesses purchasing services from other businesses, such as law firms, have a minimum expectation that women will be represented on the team pitching for work. The research also refers to instances where businesses have closely questioned presentation teams about whether women present at the pitch will be delivering the work as well.

But despite the scrutiny that large companies direct at their legal advisers, accountants and consultants, their own records on gender equality remain appalling. Women comprise only 8% of executive main board members across the FTSE 350, with the remaining 92% made up by men. Similarly, only 16% of executive committees are made up by women.

Laura King, global head of talent at magic circle firm Clifford Chance, commented on the issue. She said: “Gender balanced teams are better for our clients, better for our business and better for our people – so ensuring our pitch teams are representative of society is our goal. We – and our clients – know that diversity leads to better service and problem solving, and clients and prospective clients have expressly requested that we field diverse teams when pitching to them. It's not just the right thing to do, it's a wise business decision.”