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International Women’s Day 2024

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8th March as a focal point in the women’s rights movement, celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Each year there is a theme for International Women’s Day and this year the theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. The aim of the campaign is to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion so that we forge a better world. The hope is that one day there will be a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. A world where together we can forge women’s equality.

The History of International Women’s Day:

The origin of International Women’s Day is somewhat contested, with some saying it began in 1909 when women in New York marched for shorter hours, higher pay and the right to vote, whilst others attribute its origins to anti-fascist and socialist German leaver Clara Zetkin, who made a suggestion for a designated women’s day in 1910.

The United Nations, however, began to mark this occasion in 1975 and now International Women’s Day is celebrated in over 80 countries around the world every year. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements.

Prior to the 20th Century there were few women in law in the United Kingdom, as prior to 1919 women were not permitted to practice law in the United Kingdom. By 1931 there were around 100 female solicitors, and the first female-only law partnership was founded in 1933. By 2019, the scales had tipped with 51% of UK solicitors being women.

Women in the Legal Industry:

We have come a long way since Eliza Orme, the first woman in the United Kingdom to obtain a law degree, in 1888. She was not allowed to qualify to practice as either a solicitor or a barrister, and it was not until 1919, with the passage of The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, that she was finally called to the bar in 1920.

According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), their 2023 survey of diversity in law firms shows that the proportion of women in law firms has risen from 48% in 2015 to 53% in 2023.
The seniority gap for women still remains but has narrowed slightly since 2015 with 32% of full equity partners being women, 47% of salaried partners, and 62% of solicitors are women – which is significant considering that the legal industry has historically been a male dominated profession.

Oliver and Co

Here at Oliver and Co, we are 100% employee owned. We are proudly predominantly female with 61 of our 78 members being female. In regard to senior management roles, we have 13 directors and associate directors, 10 of which are women.

We spoke to Helena Cameron, Director and Specialist Industrial Disease Solicitor, about how she feels being a director in a female dominant law firm, in what is now a female dominant industry and her response was “I feel proud to be part of Oliver and Co. It feels fantastic to be part of a team who work together, who hold each other accountable and who aren’t afraid to ask questions of each other. There has been a huge shift in the way women in the law are perceived in the last few years and I love the fact Oliver and Co are innovators of that shift”.

At Oliver and Co, we aim to change your view of lawyers and legal services.  We are committed to treating all our employees equally, respectfully, and fairly, irrespective of their role or seniority. We strive to ensure that every employee feels valued. Oliver and Co support their staff both professionally and in times of personal crisis. We believe that happy employees make happy clients and Oliver and Co look forward to celebrating International Women’s Day this Friday.

How to get involved

The International Women’s Day official website recommends one way to take part in this year’s theme is to ‘understand, value and seek out the inclusion on women and girls’, as well as ‘sharing knowledge, support and encouragement with others’.

Have a look at their website for more details.

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