Cracking the Glass Ceiling?

In an article written by Sandra Rubin for the Globe and Mail, 'What will it take to crack the Glass Ceiling?", Rubin reports that according to Catalyst Canada, which surveys its law firm members on workplace diversity, women will not achieve parity with men at law firms until 2088.

As Rubin points out, however, those that chalk this up to being a women's issue have it all wrong.  This is not only a women's issue; it is a profitability issue.  As she reports: "Every time a female associate walks out the door, anywhere from $250,000 to $600,000 the partnership has invested walks out with her.  Losing partners is even more costly."

Kirby Chown, a litigator at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, interviewed for the article, thinks that the biggest problem is the "rigid lockstep march to parterhood."  Another problem identified by Kate Broer, of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, is the way women promote themselves to attract clients.  Essentially firms should ask: "Are women being hurt because they don't enjoy hockey or golf?"

Additionally, an interesting issue raised by this article is the distinction between work-life balance and gender balance.  Julie Hannaford, a former equity partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, who left to form JK Hannaford Barristers in 2006, believes that "the only way things will change is if law firms mandate, for example, that 35 per cent of partners in senior management be either women or members of a minority group."

As shown in Rubin's article, firms need to get creative and think outside of the box of flex-time programs to really address the glass ceiling.  For more in relation to this article click here.

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