Ashurst has become the latest firm to introduce gender diversity targets, committing to promote a greater percentage of female associates to partner, with a further goal that 25% of equity partners will be female by May 2018.
The UK firm, which currently has a female partnership ratio close to 20%, has committed to ensuring 40% of its annual partner promotions are women.
The firm is setting up an international advisory group led by managing partner James Collis, who is accountable to the top 20 firm’s board for the delivery of the new objectives. The new approach to governance will involve consultation, regional training and individual objectives under a scheme Collis calls ‘diversity as normal’.
A statement from the firm said today: ‘The new approach will see active engagement of divisions and office heads and the setting of specific objectives and priorities, with a renewed focus on transparency in reporting.’
The firm is now targeting a minimum of 25% of management positions to be held by women by 2018.
Collis said achieving the target ‘is a key management objective for me’ and will ‘deliver increased levels of innovation, greater productivity and improved staff engagement and client service’.
He added: ‘We are proud of the diverse array of talent and expertise we already have at Ashurst but there is far more we need to do to build on this. We still have more progress to make in terms of our broader diversity and inclusion agenda. We are fully committed to improving and delivering on our gender diversity targets.’
Following initiatives, such as the 30% Club’s drive to boost female representation on UK boards, other firms to have set similar targets include Pinsent Masons, Hogan Lovells and Eversheds, which are all targeting a 30% female partnership. Baker & McKenzie last year announced its plan to double its female partnership to 30% and Herbert Smith Freehills plans to hit the same target by 2019. In 2011, the Davies Report called for strong action from UK companies to redress gender imbalance on UK boards, suggesting that they should aim for a target of 25% female representation by 2015.