To mark International Women’s Day, law firm RPC has conducted a desk drop to all staff, informing them that they have signed the Law Society’s Women in Law Pledge and launched their Gender Balance Plan.
This is an eight-point plan, launched by the Law Society, committing to gender equality across the legal profession and the state.
“The Pledge allows signatories to harness the power of gender inequality to transform the business of law” say’s Kate Ruch, RPC’s Head of People Advisory and Inclusion.
“We believe it is the right thing to do and have decided to take it a step further by launching our own 15-point Gender Balance Plan to drive cultural change within the firm.
The Gender Balance Plan looks at fair remuneration, recruitment practices, business development and agile working, the quarterly appraisal conversations, talent mapping and ensuring that each person gets the appropriate level of sponsorship at key times in their career. It also focuses on how RPC welcomes individuals back into the business following any leave. RPC recently partnered with Reignite Academy and has already welcomed three women, who have returned to the profession after a career hiatus.
Each of the 15 points has measurable targets that will be reported back to the board on a six-monthly basis.
The initiative is supported by the firm’s leadership, James Miller, Managing Partner, commenting: “I am really encouraged that RPC has signed the Women in Law pledge. We haven’t stopped there but furthered our commitment by introducing our own fifteen-point Gender Balance Plan.
“We, like most other firms, recognise that our firm will benefit from having more women in our Partnership, and in our senior leadership positions. I am excited to report back how our plans progress over the coming months.”
A boost to female representation
RPC employs 600 people at its main London office and a further 96 in Bristol, Hong Kong and Singapore. Of the total, 60% are female, 37.8% are male, 2% prefer not to say, and 0.2% are non-binary. The firm has 77 partners, of which less than a quarter (24.7%) are female, compared with 75.3% male.
“Three of the last six partners we hired were female, and we will continue to aim to increase the number of women into the partnership,” says Ruch. “That’s only going to be achieved by having the right processes and practices in place for everyone to succeed. This is what the Gender Balance Plan focuses on.
“We aim to increase female representation in our Partnership; a by-product of which will be that everyone recognises that there is a career pathway for them in an environment that equally promotes success for all our people, regardless of gender. Historically in law that has been really difficult.”
The firm’s leadership sponsors the Gender Balance Plan, in particular, board member and Head of Insurance, Simon Laird, who leads the internal Balanced Business Task Force. It is one of several initiatives that Ruch has instigated since joining the firm two years ago.
“When I arrived, we had a large I&D committee that was active but had lots of competing demands,” says Ruch. “We changed that by forming eight active workstreams. These are faith, disability, caring, mental health, social mobility, gender, LGBT and ethnicity. We have over 70 people involved in these workstreams. RPC also has an allies programme involving 100 people.
“There’s a huge amount of enthusiasm and effort not just coming out of the I&D team, but from within the whole RPC community which is just brilliant and helps makes my job much easier!”
The heads of the workstreams report directly to Simon Laird, who is accountable for inclusion and diversity to the board.