Senior partner Jodi Winter praises improved gender equality and encourages legal sector not to become complacent

CJCH Solicitors’ Jodi Winter says it’s “incredibly motivating” to see more women achieving senior roles across the legal profession, but encourages business leaders to keep the momentum going to ensure continued gender balance.

Jodi, who last year was appointed to our award-winning firm’s executive board, said she was delighted to see that 33% of partners across the legal sector were now women, according to a report from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The findings from the SRA also showed that 48% of solicitors surveyed across the UK are women, a statistic which Jodi said reflected the industry’s progressive nature.

Jodi, who is a senior partner and head of the Family and Child Law Department, is speaking out on female inclusion to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th.

The worldwide initiative, which celebrates and recognises the personal and professional achievements of women, is this year focussing on the theme of gender balance.

Jodi feels this topic is particularly vital in an industry such as hers, which is traditionally perceived as being male dominated.

CJCH Solicitors is challenging that misconception and has proved that it’s leading the way when it comes to achieving greater gender equality. The firm’s executive board is now comprised of 50% women, following Jodi’s appointment in January, while its senior management team was also female driven.

CJCH notably has a higher rate of female employees than male, and attracted a large number of talented female graduates from across Cardiff and the surrounding areas.

On the issue of gender balance in the legal industry, Jodi said she is proud to be part of an award-winning firm which is leading by example in relation to inclusivity.

She said: “Becoming a partner and executive board member at CJCH this year has undeniably been the highlight of my career to date.

“But what makes me more proud, is to be appointed to this position within a firm which truly values and recognises the talent and potential of its female employees.

“While I was a trainee solicitor you frequently saw men ascending through the ranks and being given opportunities in higher leadership roles. Over time there has been a gradual shift in attitudes towards gender balance, which has is undeniably more positive and has paved the way for solicitors, such as myself, to really achieve their potential and undertake rewarding leadership positions.

“However, I think gender equality in the legal sector was truly affirmed and accepted with the appointment of Lady Hale as president of the Supreme Court, which is a landmark achievement for equality and diversity in the profession.

“While this increased inclusion is absolutely fantastic, and I am personally delighted to see more women occupying more decision-making roles, I do feel that we as an industry cannot afford to become complacent.

“Such incredible progress has been made over the years, with the SRA now showing that 33% of partners across the sector are female, that we cannot afford to stop investing in and support female equality at this stage.

“It’s vital that business leaders across the UK continue to support women throughout the industry and keep this momentum moving in the right direction, and encourage them to pursue enriching leadership roles, which not only benefit them but the sector as a whole.”

Inclusion and Diversity – CJCH Commitment

CJCH Equality & Diversity Policy

paralegal jobs barryAs our 2017 diversity results are set to be published on our website later this week, we would like to share our internal Equality and Diversity Policy as well. This policy is available to all staff and is in the process of being added to our website footer for ease of access.

The firm is committed to providing equality of opportunity and maximising the benefits, for all, to be gained from recognising and respecting people diversity. The senior person responsible this policy and its effective implementation is Tim Hartland.

SRA Regulations (2011): The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Mandatory Principle No 9 requires us to: “Run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity.

Discrimination:

The firm, its owners, directors, partners, managers and staff will not discriminate or tolerate unlawful discrimination based on any of the “protected characteristics” set out in the Equality Act 2010 or the legal sector Quality Standards referred to below:

  1. Equality Act 2010 – “protected characteristics” are listed as:
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  1. The LAA’s SQM lists additional/differently-worded characteristics:
  • Colour
  • Ethnic or national origins,
  • Marital status

Types of Discrimination

  • Direct Discrimination – one person is treated less favourably than another based on a protected characteristic.
  • Indirect Discrimination – a rule or policy that applies to everyone that can inadvertently disadvantage someone with a protected characteristic (unless it is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate business aim”).
  • Associative Discrimination – direct discrimination takes place against someone because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic e.g. A carer of a person with a disability.
  • Discrimination by Perception – direct discrimination because others think (wrongly) that someone has a protected characteristic – e.g. when they think someone is gay when they are not and discriminate against them on the basis of that perception.

Harassment and Victimisation:

The firm will not tolerate or permit Harassment or Victimisation of any kind either of our own personnel, clients or persons external to our organisation with whom we interact professionally.

  • Harassment – including unwanted or inappropriate attention or behaviour staff find offensive even if not directed against them personally;
  • Harassment by a Third Party;
  • Victimisation – someone being treated badly because they have complained, raised a grievance or supported someone who has e.g. whistle blower or complainant.

Application of the Policy:

Our Equality and Diversity Policy will be implemented and integrated into all elements of our business to encourage a diverse and inclusive enforcement both internally and externally. A full version of this policy is available to all our staff and can be made available to our clients and suppliers upon request.

Enforcement – Breach of this Policy:

It is hoped that as a result of training, all staff will see the benefits of complying with all aspects of this policy. If, however, there is an alleged breach of this policy, the allegations will be treated seriously and investigated and dealt with thoroughly.

Diversity:

  • We all come from different backgrounds and each person brings a wealth of life experiences that shape us into the unique individual we each are.
  • The organisation is, therefore, a rich tapestry of people which make it different from any other organisation.
  • We therefore often have different perspectives on the challenges and opportunities we face in the practice.
  • In our decision-making, strategic planning and process improvement, we, therefore, wish to benefit from these different perspectives.
  • Equality and Diversityisnot about treating everyone as if they were the same. It’s about recognising and valuing the difference and ideas that each individual can bring to the firm.
  • It is about the benefits to all of us of equality fairness and difference.
  • It is about treating each other with respect and courtesy at all times.
  • The firm is committed to collecting, collating, reporting and publishing its diversity data in line with SRA requirements and the Data Protection Act

Positive action:

  • Although it is unlawful to discriminate in favour of certain groups on the grounds of race or sex, positive action to enable greater representation of under-represented groups is permitted by law and the appropriateness of such action will be kept under review.

Communication of Policy to Staff:

  • The policy is communicated to all staff through internal communication channels, meetings and training, and is available to all staff via the firms internal portal.

Meeting the Diverse Needs of the Clients and Communities we serve:

  • Our Services Plan sets out how we will meet the diverse needs of the clients and local communities we serve and is available upon request.

Reasonable Adjustments for Personnel:

  • If difficulties are experienced at work because of a disability, staff may wish to contact our Managing Partner to discuss any reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty.
  • We will consider the request carefully and try to accommodate the needs within reason. If we consider a particular adjustment would not be reasonable we will explain our reasons and try to find an alternative solution where possible.

Review of this Policy:

  • The policy will be reviewed annually using prescribed procedures.