IBA podcast looks at achieving true equality in the legal profession

The International Bar Association (IBA) Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU) spoke to Georgia Dawson, senior partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, on  gender equality at the top of the legal profession in a podcast published as part of the LPRU’s business and sustainability series. Dawson is the first woman to be appointed senior partner of a Magic Circle law firm.

In this episode, Sara Carnegie, IBA Legal Projects director, and Beatriz Martínez, IBA project lawyer, discuss with Dawson the challenges facing female lawyers in attaining and retaining senior positions in the profession, and the initiatives and measures that law firms can take to ensure that workplaces foster and achieve a diverse and inclusive environment.

On her passion for gender equality in the legal profession, Dawson remarked, “Ideally, we should all be pushing for absolute gender parity and not satisfying ourselves with anything less. I am incredibly passionate about trying to move the needle, in terms of diversity and improvement ... One of the first things I did in becoming senior partner was to announce global targets and a series of commitments to deliver on those targets.”

On the importance of involving male colleagues in the conversation surrounding gender equality, Dawson said,

“Looking for ways to involve your male colleagues, to play to their strengths and help them find a role within the diversity & inclusion agenda that they feel comfortable with is really important. Then, you get heightened levels of engagement because they feel comfortable and confident in the role that you’re asking them to play. You need to play to the strengths of all your colleagues.”

For legal organizations keen to improve the situation in their workplace, Dawson had the following advice: “Collaboration and drawing on the expertise of others is absolutely critical, particularly if you’re just starting out. We are constantly talking to clients and other industry players, about what might make a difference. It is important to demonstrate some degree of action and some degree of commitment as soon as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it will all, cumulatively, over time, contribute to creating a more diverse workplace.”

The conversation with Dawson podcast episode forms part of the LPRU’s ongoing project 50:50 by 2030: A longitudinal study into gender disparity in law.

To listen, visit www.ibanet.org/Sustainable-Law-in-Action:-how-can-we-achieve-true-equality-in-the-legal-profession.

The IBA Sustainable Law in Action series is available on Spotify.