Diversity and inclusion represent one of the main challenges law firms have been called to fight globally, on one hand to promote the undisputable values they represent and, on the other hand, to properly bring into the work environment of the law industry one of the most important (if not the most fundamental) principles which should inspire any interaction between people: equality.
After remaining bound to tradition for decades, legal profession has suddenly evolved rapidly in the last few years. Among other aspects which have required larger and smaller firms to adapt, indeed, were not only operational ones such as innovation and technology, but way more others going deep into the basic principles grounding the foundations of service delivery and governance of law firms, as well as already happened in any other industry.
As such, diversity and inclusion surely represent the biggest challenge which firms have been and still are facing: not only to be consistent with shared principles of equal rights and opportunities, but also to expand their vision and don’t miss the chance to amplify the importance of equality and respect in the legal and justice environment.
There is indeed a growing culture of inclusion, aimed at promoting no longer silently, but yet loudly, diversity (being such based on e.g. gender, nationality, orientation, disability, religion and any other form of diversity capable of being identified and as such protected). This way diversity became in the law industry (as in any other industry), further to a valuable and undeniable right of the individual, a winning choice and key to success, enabling professionals, employees and entire firms they belong, to better contribute and participate to the growth as a real print of added value.
In the legal profession, as in many other industries, diversity started with the growth of women as affirmed practitioners, setting the path to have them becoming soon leaders of the largest firms.
To estimate how representative and important women are in the legal industry in central Europe, it is worth mentioning how women presence in the legal industry has been increasingly growing over the last 40 years in Italy. According to official data of the Italian National Bar, since 1981 women practicing law in Italy increased from 7% of the entire legal population, to 15% in the Nineties, to 30% in 2001, reaching a peak of 48% in 2021.
Inclusion of women in the legal profession is however still in progress, in Italy as well anywhere in Europe.
Indeed, the so called “gender pay gap” is a challenge which is far from being won, seeing still remuneration of women significantly lower than average.
Among many obstacles to the solution to this problem, on top of the list are family burdens which tend to weight mostly on mothers.
However, Covid-19 has somehow positively influenced this trend, forcing families to stay together for long during lockdowns and inducing parents to share more equally family burdens helping each other to a more effective work-life balance.
Continue reading the full version published in the IPBA Journal.