Charlotte Percy, one of our associate solicitors, set up Leading Ways towards the end of 2016 when she was with law firm Slater and Gordon, as a result of her frustration at seeing first-hand how few women held senior positions, and how little was being done to address it.
“Despite 80 percent of entry level positions being filled by women, and more than 70 percent of the workforce overall being female, at senior levels this was whittled down to just 30 percent,” said Charlotte.
“I submitted a proposal to my board and asked them to set specific targets to re-balance gender representation at senior levels and presented a plan to address the inequality.”
The revolutionary initiative involves independent mentoring and coaching, special events with inspirational women speakers, regular communications highlighting the visibility of women in leadership roles, and driving forward the firms’ commitments to gender equality.
“The impact over the past 12 months has been remarkable,” said Charlotte. “There were extraordinarily high levels of staff engagement, so much so that Leading Ways was used as a model to address all diversity matters including race and disability, leading to a champion for each issue in offices nationwide.”
Leading Ways is already an intrinsic part of our firm, and Charlotte is busy working with other national and regional law firms to set up their own Leading Ways models. “I plan to focus my efforts this year on engaging more Manchester firms, so that we as a region can become a beacon for the legal industry across the country, addressing gender inequality in the kind of practical and effective way that delivers genuine results.”
Charlotte, 31, lives in Macclesfield; she sits on the board of Manchester Law Society and is Chair of the Solicitors Group in Manchester. She is using her connections to benefit other women in the legal sector, focusing on female empowerment and correcting gender imbalance in the workplace, believing that the initiative works best when led from ground level up, rather than top down.
Charlotte will find out if she has won the Agent of Change award at a star-studded ceremony in the Hilton Hotel, Deansgate, in March, competing against such nominees as Virgin Money’s Director of Public Affairs, the founder and CEO of Global Diversity Practice, and the former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England.
“With movements such as Times Up gaining serious traction, now is the right time for Leading Ways to really blaze a trail of gender equality in the boardrooms of Great Britain,” she added. “And I believe that the talented and powerful women in the North will lead the way.”