Is the female of the species more deadly than the male? Rudyard Kipling thought so. The picture he conjures is of a vengeful, unremittingly dangerous female that, frankly I don’t recognise.
This afternoon I had an excellent conversation with Louise Wheeler. Louise was telling me about her research into why there is such a serious problem with retention of female lawyers. At Insight Oxford, Louise works with companies on helping them with polls, market research and exit interviews to analyse trends and patterns of mass behaviour to minimise staff losses, maximise staff activity and increase customer sales and loyalty.
She came across some interesting findings in her research for a well-known law firm.
She came across some interesting findings in her research amongst female lawyers in the City. This indicates that women lawyers, are less likely to push themselves forward than their male counterparts and much more resistant to the culture of current working practice which often necessitates saying goodnight to their children over the phone due to staying late at the office to work on a case. Insight Oxford’s research shows that women often choose not to stay and challenge the status quo. Instead, they leave. And in leaving, they lose their chance to lead the influential law firm they joined in the first place.
What is deadly serious for an organisation that has invested a great deal of money, time and training (Louise gives a conservative estimate of £125,000), is the terrible loss of talent, ability and potential. This is a loss for the individual woman, the law and the nation.
A much bigger question is whether the organisation that bears this loss is willing to adapt to become more female friendly. Unlikely.