Hooray for employers posting inspirational girl power sentiments to mark International Women's Day!
Boo to the Twitter bot which got far more traction by adding the difference between the women's and men's median hourly pay. Merciless.
Even the law socs got dragged.
It proved too much for Ward Hathaway:
The disparity between male and female pay in private practice has sometimes been explained as the consequence of women occupying more PA roles than men, but it's not much of an excuse, especially given the female brain drain which afflicts a firm's lawyers as seniority increases.
It's also worth noting that law firms' pay gap reporting usually doesn't include the partnership, which tends to be male-dominated, and means the true disparity between male and female pay at most firms is likely to be significantly higher.
The scarcity of women at senior levels is a source of embarrassment the profession has grappled with for years, with varying degrees of success and seriousness. Flexible working, part-time career paths, unconscious bias, sexism - it's a complicated area, but one rule holds true: check before you post. Take the Asia Managing Partner of Freshfields (16.8% pay gap, apparently), who came out with a strong show of IWD support on LinkedIn and blew it within two sentences.
Thomas Ng congratulated his female colleagues for getting where they had because they "refused to be daunted by bias and inequality" and were now "deservedly reaping the rewards". Some suggested that his joyful take implied that bias and inequality was something women just had to deal with, and that women who hadn't overcome it were simply not ambitious enough.
Affronted women included former Morgan Lewis and Baker Botts partner Amy Conway-Hatcher, who commented, "Respectfully and sincerely, I'm hoping men in positions of power who are no doubt well-intentioned don't offer words of congratulations for sticking it out in unfair competitive environments".
Ng responded, "I fully recognise that there have been many talented females who have been unfairly held back from achieving their full potential, or from receiving the recognition they deserved – this is the bias and inequality I wanted to acknowledge in my post".
He said he was proud of his firm’s commitment to achieving better gender diversity, stating that "one of our targets is that by 2026, new partners should be 40% women, 40% men and 20% men, women or non-binary", and that "I believe that we are probably more clear-eyed about the challenge we face than we have ever been". The bot is on standby.