'Workin' 9 to 3am'
Thousands of women working in private practice revealed what sparks joy and what enrages them at their firms in the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2022 survey.
Women in law firms are just about as satisfied as men, the survey revealed, with 3,892 women handing their firm an average score of 67%, compared to a 69% score from the male respondents. (Those who didn't record their sex - over 1,000 people - were by far the most unhappy, handing their firm an average score of 52%.)
Excluding partners, who were largely ecstatic, the average score for solicitors dropped to 61% for women and 63% for men. The average female solicitor is marginally less satisfied than her male counterpart with everything except her work/life balance.
Numerous women expressed their delight with the growing number of female leaders emerging in traditionally male-dominated boardrooms. "I was so proud of the firm for appointing a female senior partner, and it was great to see other firms follow suit and make similar appointments", said a business services employee at Freshfields. The "female-led management team" brought "a breath of fresh air" to the London office, agreed a senior solicitor at the firm.
"It is great to see a woman moving into the senior management team as our COO", echoed a business services employee at Macfarlanes, while at Trowers and Hamlins, where Sara Bailey has become the firm's second consecutive female senior partner, it was also "extremely inspirational to see so many women in leadership roles", said a female employee.
However, women were alive to the possibility that firms desperate to appear progressive might promote a candidate as inappropriate as any stale male dinosaur. "Whilst it was pleasant to see a woman elected to a leadership role", said a female lawyer at one firm, the partner in question "is about the most unsuited person for this task and will be an appalling advocate of equal treatment of women, considering she is known to discourage families and pregnancies".
Citing similar reservations, women at several firms bemoaned the female role models they were being offered. "The kind of women who make it to the top pull up the ladder behind them - they aren't prepared to support a work-life balance", said a senior solicitor at Howard Kennedy. The lack of "well-balanced, well-adjusted and happy role models (particularly female, particularly women with families)" was even raised by a lawyer at the RollOnFriday Best Law Firm to Work At 2022, Burges Salmon.
Count yourself lucky, admonished women at firms with a persistently bepenised outlook. "I wish there were more representation, it would be nice to have a female in a leading role", said a senior solicitor at Shoosmiths (although the firm currently has a female interim COO).
Long, inflexible hours were rued by lawyers of both sexes, but it was a particularly career-stunting obstacle for women and mothers, said female lawyers. "Seen a number of women depart after being looked over for promotion", said a solicitor at Reed Smith. "Whilst never (publicly) the primary reason, there is still a lack of compatibility between demanding City law hours (plus BD/client entertaining etc.) and a family life", she said.
"All women seem to agree that having children and a career at W&C are mutually exclusive unless you have significant additional resources (ie round the clock childcare or a partner that doesn't work/works very regular hours)", said a lawyer at White & Case. "This is improving ", said a colleague, but "there aren't really structures in place to encourage females to remain" in a culture which aimed to retain "just those that can endure long hours and lots of pressure".
Expressions of understanding from the top often clashed with the reality on the ground, said mothers. "The messages at management level do not filter down to reality in individual teams", said a Freshfields solicitor. Partners in individual teams "need to engage more with how to make flexible working and part time arrangements work for people with children, if management are serious about retaining women", she said. "Women with kids working 4 or 4.5 day weeks typically just have to do 5 days work in a more compressed time".
Women at several firms expressed frustration that management continued to scratch their heads over why so few women were moving up the ranks. Allen & Overy was "constantly wondering why there are not more women in senior roles, but making the work environment impossible to succeed in for women in families (who actually like their families)", said a solicitor at the Magic Circle firm.
At Charles Russell Speechlys, "Instead of analysing why the top jobs might not be accessible or appealing for women, they send women on training courses (called things like 'Evolve') to allow them to become more like men", said a CRS lawyer. "'But the women just don't want to apply for the senior roles,' they cry, without doing anything at all to establish why that might be", she added.
Meanwhile, many women at Travers Smith are apparently in agreement on one thing. A particular male associate "always smells divine - I think it’s well known who he is", said a female lawyer. "Every time I'm in the lift with him it makes me grateful that I work here", she added: "I know this is a widely held opinion amongst the female population at the firm".
In my respectful submission, there has to be a quota for female senior lawyers within law firms to achieve real diversity. Another issue, which is almost always overlooked in our country, is ethnic diversity. Their interests are just as important as female, and should be promoted accordingly.
In respect of people’s complaints of the hours, I stress that if the hours don’t work for your family schedule, you should pick another job that has better hours. At one point you or your partner will have to make the sacrifice for the family, and that is perfectly acceptable. If you insist to be in the game for the top bucks, then do the hours and not complain - law firms are profit generating institutions, not charity.
Whilst I agree with most of the sentiment expressed in the article I can't help but feel that more focus should be on men doing their share of the childcare. That would be a step towards equality. What this is focusing is to support but really entrench the idea that women should be primary caregivers.
"The lack of "well-balanced, well-adjusted and happy role models (particularly female, particularly women with families)" was even raised by a lawyer at the RollOnFriday Best Law Firm to Work At 2022, Burges Salmon."
Lol what? Do these people understand the nature of the profession they chose? I have never seen a "well-balanced" senior partner in a busy firm, irrespective of their gender. Do these respondents at W&C really think that their firm's male senior partners have lots of time to spend with their kids/families?
Btw, if you as a woman have to do more unpaid work than your husband/boyfriend, that's on you. It's your responsibility to fix your utterly broken relationship. It is not your employer's duty to give you better hours than your male colleagues, so that your man child at home can play video games and drink beer while you do the dishes.
Women outnumber men as entrants into the profession by 60/40. Most lawyers I work with in my area both in my team and on the opposing side are women but all the partners seem to be men so there is clearly an issue at the top. It's not about attracting women into the profession but they seem to just not want to make partner. There are not many female partner role models and the ones there are all have full time nannies etc which isn't exactly inspiring
@Aristotle - quotas are problematic in that they wouldn't take account of quality of candidates and would be discriminatory. Given that many more women than men are entering the procession you would also need to introduce quotas for men in this regard, effectively blocking some women from becoming lawyers. I think the solution is to have flatter structures and more partners, with equal opportunities for men and women.
I think people need to recognise that people who are childfree also have families i.e. you can have a family / family commitments / want a work life balance without having children. If flexibility etc is being offered to those with children it should be offered equally to all without question.
Quotas are problematic but what we have is not exactly attracting the best candidates either (given the entrance gender/race split as compared with that split at partner level). Unless you think that privately educated white men are better than women/non-white ppl which is why they end up in leadership positions.
If law firms were to have quotas they would work harder to retain great diverse talent. Obviously it's more of a prediction but worth trying because what we have now does not really promote equality.
@ Grow up, I've spotted a small typo in your post. Where you say "it's your responsibility to fix your utterly broken relationship", I think you meant "it's your responsibility to fix hundreds of years' worth of gender expectations and a society that is rigidly fixed to those expectations".
You're totally welcome!
The real problem in the legal profession is class. People from lower socioeconomic groups are underrepresented. The key is to hire more people called Stuart and Hannah and fewer called Rupert and Sophie.
Not sure someone has to be of the same gender to be a role model.
Quotas are not just problematic, they are downright insulting. Who would want to be ushered into a senior position, not through hard work, recognition, and a meritocratic process, but instead a process that favours and places more importance on your skin tone or genitalia? Who does that really benefit?
What we are seeing, which is something I have witnessed in the public sector, is that when you try to make something more 'accessible', 'diverse' or 'inclusive', or if you sell a dream that everyone can one day have a crack at partnership, or worse, lower the entrance requirements for those from certain backgrounds, is that you have great looking and braggable stats at the junior level, but when it comes to rising through the ranks, and those hires face the harsh reality of the industry and are subjected to the same meritocratic performance review process and general industry beasting like everyone else, is that they fall short or leave through natural attrition and everyone in the D&I team is wandering around scratching their heads as to why they don't have enough ethnic minorities or females that can be plastered all over the marketing materials.
@Anonymous , Nope, that's not what I am expecting at all. It would be ludicrous to ask an individual to change the whole society. But surely a young, independent woman who has managed to get a job in a big law firm is able to have a serious discussion with their partner in order to make sure that both parties to the relationship contribute equally? Surely that is not too unreasonable? It is their partner after all - a person with whom they (hopefully) voluntarily decided to have a relationship.
The alternative is indeed to require your employer to give you better hours so that your colleagues can bear the burden that your man child husband/boyfriend creates by not taking equally care of the kids etc. Someone will ultimately have to do the hours that the slacking husband's wife won't do. I for one am extremely eager to enable some random dude to avoid household chores perpetually by just working harder for the same pay.
Nice strawman attempt though.
This made me LOL - "It is not your employer's duty to give you better hours than your male colleagues, so that your man child at home can play video games and drink beer while you do the dishes".
@Anonymous 22 April 22 11:25
It doesn't have to be but the fewer similarities you find the harder it is to see yourself following in their footsteps. Perhaps it shouldn't be but it often is. When you see someone succeed who is different gender, race, religion, socio-economic roots, cultural upbringing, sexual orientation, political views, hobbies - the more of those apply the less you think their path would work for you and so much harder to believe that you can succeed. If they have different obstacles to overcome (and all of us do have some obstacles) then their model just doesn't work. If you have to look after young kids as a single parent and financially support your parents or siblings it may be hard to believe that you can also make it when all you see at the top are white, wealthy people who either do not have the same responsibilities or have other people and money to address them.
@grow up - The fact that you think responsibility for division of labour within a relationship comes down to the woman says it all.
This is completely the crux of the issue and it puzzles me why more people aren't saying it. If I could like your comment 100 times then I would.
Perhaps being a partner is simply not an attractive prospect to women.
If you are career focussed but also have a well rounded life outside of that then you don't want to live with all the pressure and stress of being a partner.
If I had a nice family and good hobbies like a lot of women do then it would be unappealing to spend nights worrying about BD, client care, recovery rates, tax, write offs, operations management recruitment and all that other jazz.
I never saw a successful female partner who was either still married or on the first marriage. In other words, women only seem to succeed when their partners are forced by a divorce to take responsibility for child rearing. When men leave the office at 5pm so they can do bath and bed time they are applauded. When women have to quietly slip out of the office at 5pm for the same reason, they are labelled as not being serious enough or not able to prioritise. I think that speaks volumes about what men can do to help women in the work place.
Not sure where the Shoosmtihs senior solicitor has been working.
“it would be nice to have a female in a leading role” ?
The heads of offices in most locations are female, along with many heads of practice areas for each office
"Another issue, which is almost always overlooked in our country, is ethnic diversity"
Oh yeah. Nobody ever mentions it do they... you could scroll for days on LinkedIn without seeing someone banging on about racial diversity.
The subject that dare not speak its name. Truly.
Physical diversity can still result in an echo chamber if everyone in the room was a MC lawyer with a degree from Oxford. Cognitive diversity is where it's at nowawadays but how many parntership boards have people qualified in things other than law, like er business. Tokenism is rooted in quotas.
Ultimately, solicitors sit behind computers all day. From early until late. Mon-Fri, and often on Sundays, and most certainly to the exclusion of many other aspects of our lives. Beyond the bullsh#t, we’re not changing the world, we’re helping make rich corporations richer. Now, someone has to do that, and many are happy with the costs of the lifestyle. Plainly, however, it is not for everyone.
Many women in particular evince a far more sensible approach to work-life balance, particularly once they have chosen to have children:
“84% of working women told ForbesWoman that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury they aspire to...more than 1 in 3 resent their partner for not earning enough to make that dream a reality.”
Is 'Opting Out' The New American Dream For Working Women?, Meghan Casserly, Forbes Magazine, 12 September 2012. https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/09/12/is-opting-out-the-new-american-dream-for-working-women.
We also do people a disservice by suggesting that anyone should aspire to in a high-pressure career in law. Not everyone will enjoy such a career. The left’s dogmatic insistence that men and women have the same preferences - in the face of the evidence - should end. Why shouldn’t people choose careers that offer a better work-life balance or flexible hours instead of big headline salaries? Why should jobs be evaluated on wage rather than fulfilment? We have gone from saying women cannot have serious careers to saying there is something wrong with them if they don't want serious careers. Women should have the choice of having demanding high paid jobs or opting for less demanding, less well paid and more family and life friendly work... and that should not be considered an issue by diversity officers/political commissars in companies.
Demanding that everyone must aspire to the same thing reminds me of the parable of the Mexican Fisherman:
The parable of the Mexican Fisherman. An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Can someone explain why is there a need to address ethnic diversity? When foreigners come into our country, they need to accept that they gotta work hard to get to where they wanna be. How could there be a reasonable expectation that our country needs to help ethnic minority to get a seat in a boardroom or partnership at a leading law firm?
I’m genuinely interested in people’s opinion on the issue. I attended numerous unconscious bias trainings but what I don’t appreciate is the ethnic diversity strategy some firms have. My firm is pushing hard globally and handing out partner positions to the minorities. I can see there’s a problem if our China/Hong Kong office has only white partners, but not in London. Food for thoughts.
All we can do is sit back and enjoy the decline :)
Side note, but spent the whole day trying to find out who this is, without success. Come on RoF, spill the beans and don’t make me start sniffing everyone I walk past!
“Meanwhile, many women at Travers Smith are apparently in agreement on one thing. A particular male associate "always smells divine - I think it’s well known who he is", said a female lawyer. "Every time I'm in the lift with him it makes me grateful that I work here", she added: "I know this is a widely held opinion amongst the female population at the firm".”
@16:49 Do you really equate ‘ethnic minority’ with ‘foreigner’? Where are you from, the 1950s?
In response to 2PQE at 16:49, who asked about diversity: it's about $$$$. Firms will do whatever necessary to comply with prevailing political fashion. That seems reasonable: law firms are businesses, and if clients, under pressure from activists, want to instruct a certain % of left-handed people with blue hair, then we should promote more left-handed people with blue hair - and the rest of us should buy hair dye, and starting practicing writing left-handed. Follow the money!
So-called "Diversity" is a contested political issue, but it is one of the areas in which there is a single acceptable politically fashionable view, and woe betide those who disagree. The Law Society Gazette is particularly guilty of this. Articles mentioning diversity frequently have the comments section closed, or if they are initially open, if anyone dares indulge in WrongThink, censorship apparatchiks “disappear” the comments down George Orwell’s memory hole. Counter-arguments to the current politically fashionable zeitgeist include:
⚫ "Diversity is simply a political theory favored by advocates of identity politics. Its origins still define it. "Science" has ever since been playing catch-up-trying to supply a scientific foundation for what is a political objective. The primary function of the business case is to lend a veneer of scientific respectability to the political program of affirmative action for women and non-whites. The scientific evidence does not support the claims made by advocates of diversity in the workplace." (Maitland, Ian. "Why the business case for diversity is wrong." Geo. JL & Pub. Pol'y 16 (2018): 731)
⚫ "Diversity either has a very weak relationship with performance or no relationship at all. Arguments for diversity are merely 'politics by other means'." (Klein, Katherine. "Does gender diversity on boards really boost company performance." [email protected] Wharton (2017))
⚫ "…greater diversity along the intersection of gender and race/ethnicity significantly reduced performance" (Calder-Wang, Sophie, Paul A. Gompers, and Kevin Huang. Diversity and Performance in Entrepreneurial Teams. No. w28684. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2021.)
The "pro-diversity/quotas/affirmative action/anti-white/anti-male" arguments are from people such as Kimberlé Crenshaw, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Robin DiAngelo, and Ibram X. Kendi. Their "critical race theory" and derivative arguments place racial conflict at the centre of every issue at the expense of race-neutral considerations like objective truth and human individuality. This includes asserting that hard work, delayed gratification, maths, and the written word are "aspects of whiteness."
Opposing them are people such as Amy Chua, Andrew Sullivan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Coleman Hughes, Glenn Loury, Heather MacDonald (City Journal), Jason Reilly, John McWhorter, Larry Elder, Megan Kelly, Shelby Steele (e.g. "The Content of Our Character"), Thomas Chatterton Williams (e.g. "Self-Portrait in Black and White"), Walter Williams, and Wilfred Reilly. The latter argue that different racial outcomes primarily reflect different cultures and behaviour, and that immigrants of every colour are successful when they: (i) obtain at least a high school education, (ii) secure a full-time job, and (iii) marry before having children (the ‘success sequence’), as well as (iv) avoiding crime. See the black US economist Thomas Sowell’s extensive body of work on this (e.g. “The Economics and Politics of Race”), as a primary example of this genre. Some examples of positions on the latter side of the argument:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King, 28 August 1963, Washington DC.
"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."- Chief Justice Roberts, "Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1", 551 U.S. 701; 127 S. Ct. 2738; 168 L. Ed. 2d 508; 75 U.S.L.W. 4577; 20 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 490.
For a current example of a live case on this, there is a case against Harvard that it is discriminating against Asians by using affirmative action against them. As one person monitoring that case noted this afternoon: "The moral outrage of Harvard admissions: If it admitted students by academic credentials alone... over 50% of the admitted students would be Asian, rather than the current 24%, and fewer than 1% of the admitted students would be black, rather than the current 15%." https://twitter.com/a_centrism/status/1517502469537996803
In summary, for entirely understandable commercial reasons, ‘diversity’ and ‘equity’ are replacing ‘merit and equal opportunities at point of entry’. ‘Diversity/equity’ never means representation of, e.g. the working class, or conservatives, or Asians, it is a weapon used to advance carefully selected, politically-favoured ‘tribes’. There is no difference between (i) diversity; (ii) targets; (iii) quotas; (iv) affirmative action; and (v) anti-white/anti-Asian/anti-male discrimination. They are substantially identical except for the level of euphemism. Diversity should be irrelevant: all that should matter is merit. Bluntly précised, the diversity bandwagon grifters’ schtick is simply: “We can’t impose our left-wing social engineering via objective measures of merit and competence, so we’re now deploying blackmail, quotas, and affirmative action - and creating jobs for ourselves as the moral arbiters of wrongthink”.
I am a middle aged white man working in a senior role in a large national firm, no names.
I'm sick to death of white boys getting all the good opportunities in the firm. When I joined I noted that the junior boys all got taken to client meetings whilst the junior girls got to do the work in the office.
I thought this was just some sort of coincidence but over the years this has become a massive trend. Boys, strategy and client, girls, people and processing. This means when it comes to promotions the right person for the job is always a boy as they have had more client time but the girl "isn't really known by the clients."
Every single time in the office it's the usual group of posh, young, white boys being given the opportunities to work on the sexy jobs whilst the girls are given more routine work. There's no difference in their abilities but the exposure makes a massive difference when it comes to senior associate, principal and then higher.
We constantly raise it with very senior leadership whenever diversity comes up but, is anything done about it? Do they ever try to have some diversity in the opportunities given? Quiet words in partners' ears, they are deaf to it. "The cream rises to the top," was the best description I've ever heard. Tosh. Absolute blindness to the discriminatory opportunities given to the braying, posh, white boys.
Don't even get me started on skin colour. Send someone non-white on a secondment - a key part of a promotion - not a chance. "The client has a certain culture."
I’m not a Cambridge graduate to understand the difference between ethnic minority and foreigner. Should the term “foreign object” or “aliens” be used then?
That aside, ethnic diversity is more a thing in the US due to the greater foreign object population (non-white). This isn’t really a problem in the British Empire, as people are generally supportive of foreign objects (with little bias). If there is a racial problem the British Empire wouldn’t be what it is now, being a truly cosmopolitan metropolis.
@10.03 - you'd need to have quotas at entry level too in order to address the higher number of female trainees. I don't think this would be a good idea any more than it would be to have quotas preventing men from becoming partner.
If it wasn't for Lucy Liu in Ally McBeal we wouldn't have Judge Judy.
Don't claim there aren't any good female role models in law.
Do your research.
These ideas are insane.
If they started making more women into partners there'd be no-one left to do the work.
Firms would collapse.
What the hell would happen to private schools in Surrey?
Are you people mad?
@Anonymous 22 April 22 13:07
Ah yes, the classic "ur a misogynist" comeback. You should try that at work too when someone dares to disagree with your view. I promise it will go down well.
But if I have to pick whether I am responsible for the division of household chores in my colleague's relationship (by having to work harder so that she doesn't have to have an uncomfortable conversation with HER OWN boyfriend/husband to resolve the actual issue) instead of my colleague herself, it's a relatively easy choice.
Of course it is my female colleague's partner's fault for not doing his fair share, but who else should be responsible for the division of work within a relationship than the people that are part of the relationship? I don't remember there being a section in my employment contract where it states that I have to storm my colleague's house, take away the hubby's PlayStation and threaten to smash it unless he takes out the trash. That's really for her to do if she has decided to marry a real-life Onslow from Keeping Up Appearances. And if she doesn't want to, she can either leave (if not, she needs a police intervention instead of more time at home) or keep on pampering the man child. Either way, hardly a justification for her to ask her colleagues to work harder for the same pay.
We are not talking about helpless toddlers after all.
@Middle aged white man - I think a good idea would be for you to turn down promotions and the work that you, as a male, are being offered, and suggest it be given to females instead. Make sure that the females in your firm know that you're doing this and request that you be nominated for firm diversity champion. What is the partner split by gender at your firm?
Let's be honest - most (senior) partners aren't great role models. Often they didn't do much parenting (if any), drink too much, work long hours and are on second/third marriages.
Not necessarily a criticism of course, as each needs to make their own choices.
But the reason I (as a man) left the MC in my early 30s was because I couldn't be the parent I wanted to be and have the career I wanted without accepting significant health downsides - no sleep, no time to exercise, weight gain etc etc. That wasn't for me but others may accept it. Its ruddy tough mind!
It is worse for women who in many relationships are seen as the primary carer by everyone (family, employers, friends, healthcare professionals etc). Wrongly in my case but I accept I'm in a massive minority.
There are a number of firms which are respectful of family time and the need to do the school run etc. Yes you are expected to absolutely smash your workload and hit your targets and win work if you want to be a partner - I don't see how these requirements can change just because someone has kids?
Ethnic diversity is important because everyone should be given the same opportunity irrespective of your skin tone. Quota shouldn’t be used, but when the bias are so significant that influence the decision making process on senior promotion, then quota is an effective cure.
People who aren’t in the position of ethnic minorities have no idea what it’s like to be discriminated against. The white male/female should wake up and reflect on the additional things that could help us.
I am of mixed British and Chinese ethnic heritage. I was born in England, as were my parents. I am an ethnic minority. Do you consider me a ‘foreigner’ or ‘foreign object’? If so, how far back down the bloodline do your archaic (or just plain racist) sensibilities require you to look before someone is considered British?
> "when the bias are so significant that influence the decision making process on senior promotion, then quota is an effective cure. People who aren’t in the position of ethnic minorities have no idea what it’s like to be discriminated against."
This is entirely subjective, and we risk creating issues where none exist, i.e. similar to false memory syndrome. I'm not saying that racism and sexism don't exist, I'm noting that if we 'prime' people to look for racism and sexism everywhere, then (1) people will find them; and (2) they may, objectively, be incorrect - and we are responsible for having encouraged their misapprehensions. In so doing, we have made them less resilient and more fragile: we are not helping.
I'm thinking of a specific example a couple of years ago, in which while out drinking, Associate 1, a racial minority, told me that he was considering leaving the firm. He specifically cited as one of his considerations the fact that Partner 1, a white female, was "a racist" because she gave Associate 2, another racial minority, certain sorts of work which Associate 1 considered "dull and monotonous", and thus beneath our pay grade. He triumphantly concluded that Partner 1 was therefore racist.
He was astonished when I explained that for much of the preceding 9 months I had been doing exactly the same dull and monotonous work, indeed it comprised 90% of my work (seriously, he was speechless and looked like a small child whose toys had just been stolen). I further noted that I, a white male, was doing it at the behest of Partner 2, who is a racial minority. What I did not go on to say, because I recognize the dangerous politicization of these issues, is that because I am a white male, I just accept that I am a small cog in a very large machine, and that I am here to do whatever the firm needs me to do (and be very well paid for it: we are incredibly fortunate to work here), and in this case (in fact the preceding 9 months), that is fairly dull and monotonous work. I am not a special snowflake: if it needs doing, I'm not "too good" for that work, and I don't have the excuse of blaming racism if I don't like it. Hence my points at the outset about subjectivity and creating specters of racism where none exists. I didn't bother explaining this to him as I'm wary of people imposing their politics in work. I'd rather that we all just focus on doing our job, and keep our politics to our personal lives, and the privacy of the ballot box.
Wokeism, identity politics, or so-called 'social justice', is the contrivance, fetishization and weaponization of victimhood to gain status and seize resources. The Black Lies Mob bandwagon is beloved of white liberals as it allows them to feel virtuous and trumpet their purported moral superiority without cost. In fact, it merely infantilizes those it purports to assist because it casts them as life’s perpetual, passive victims, with white people as both responsible for their situation and their saviours. Contrast this with the most successful ethnic groups in both the US and the UK: Indians and Asians, who achieved success through tight family and community structures, education, hard work and avoiding criminality. They didn’t obsess about “oppression”, they worked long hours in low level jobs, and now the children and grandchildren of those people are doctors and lawyers.
As well as some of the links above, I recommend Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Coddling of the American Mind, which also discusses many of the issues I allude to above.
On the topic of the increasingly hysterical assertions about racism and discrimination, I recommend Douglas Murray's book, The Madness of Crowds. Also, the following paper is interesting, about ‘Prevalence-induced concept change’. It explains that “When instances of a concept become less prevalent, the concept may expand to include instances that it previously excluded, thereby masking the magnitude of its own decline.”
In other words, if you are decide to frame your entire weltanschauung - and even your individual identity - around the concept of immutable characteristics and you commit yourself to the idea that racism exists and is pervasive, you will eventually manage to convince yourself that you have found it. In the meantime, other people less self-obsessed are busy studying, exercising, doing business development, working, achieving things, and so on. You will become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
PS Quotas also eviscerate credibility as everyone in the matching group is thereafter suspected of merely being a diversity hire. Affirmative action doesn't work.
"Let's be honest - most (senior) partners aren't great role models. Often they didn't do much parenting (if any), drink too much, work long hours and are on second/third marriages."
And not just the male senior partners.
Mountain old boy, you do write an awful lot of utter crap
What is meant by 'realistic role models' in this instance?
Do they mean a female partner/board member/team leader who has kids and works 9-5?
Or just having more women in such roles?
Its unrealistic to think hours are going to suddenly be regular. That's not the way it works. Everyone is expected to put the hours in at all levels.
So maybe there are role models (albeit not enough) but such role models are not what people want to see?
There needs to be a word limit for the comments. My god some people can type (or copy-paste).
I am a white male.
I've been taken to drinks and invited to events where female colleagues should have also been for parity. Instead there were many Fridays where I was invited to the pub to drink with the seniors while the largely female team stayed in the office to work. It has improved slightly in recent times but even as recently ago as circa 10 years ago it was pretty bad.
I have very much enjoyed the comments between @Grow up and @Anonymous. What a discussion. The culture of the "default parent" is a very hard one to navigate. Unfortunately it is rather hard to stray from the usual mother being the default parent whilst the dad is applauded by all for doing what would be described as being an average mother. I for one have a very helpful husband at home and we try to be a true team in all aspects but it is rather difficult to uphold. When I returned to work from maternity we had decided that I would be the one to decrease my hours (we were on around about the same wages so it could have easily been either of us that chose to do so). When I decreased my hours I was met with comments that I am sure would not have been made to him had we made the decision for him to cut his hours. Instead I was made to continue all my duties, with no extra assistance just working fewer hours and whilst for a while I muddled through the constant comments about my need for leaving on time (despite hours then done at home) and about my priorities changing when becoming a mother became to much. I left the London firm for one more local to home and with a wonderful team (senior partner is a woman) whom provide the most supportive workplace. I now am able to give a 110% to a firm that actually appreciate it.
That being said it is about time we had these discussions so that the "default parent" becomes a thing of the past and the norm becomes that both parents are treated with the same respect. Those conversations must start at home but be supported everywhere.
25th @ 10.46 - why didn't you invite the females?
The continued use of the word "females" in this thread says everything.
@What? 22 April 22 20:06
>I’m not a Cambridge graduate to understand the difference between ethnic minority and foreigner. Should the term “foreign object” or “aliens” be used then?
When I arrived for my studies, I was declared an alien. I can assure you my passport was well hammered. Somewhat to my disappointment, I saw no obvious green skinned aliens in the queue at the alien registration office. As for "foreign object", I got the distinct impression the staff at the alien registration office was concerned I might probe random sheep.
Because they munted and weren't fun.
@14.17 - and what about the use of the word "males"?
"Let's be honest - most (senior) partners aren't great role models. Often they didn't do much parenting (if any), drink too much, work long hours and are on second/third marriages."
Hang on a moment, the long hours sound a bit rum, but the rest of this sounds downright aspirational.
No nappies, loads of drinking, upgrade your partner at the same intervals as your phone.
What's the bit where you're saying they've gone wrong?
@11.08 - I thought you said it was because they stayed in the office to work.
What always cracks me up from male lawyers saying quotas and affirmative action don’t work as people won’t be there on merit is
HAhahahhaha YOU THINK YOURE ALL THERE ON MERIT!?! It’s so funny how the fragile male ego thinks and operates
hahahahahah honestly it’s so ridiculous