International Women’s Day is where we celebrate the achievements and successes of women worldwide and it’s a chance to raise awareness of gender equality and push towards gender parity.
Radshaw Solicitors proudly supports International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme couldn’t be more apt. #BreakTheBias is something we firmly believe in – Director Adela Manzoor tells us more.
Challenging the status quo
I often reflect on my career path into law and how I’m privileged to work in this industry. I’m lucky to have seen a shift in the number of women in law throughout my career, which is encouraging. But I remember when I first sat with my school careers advisor and talked about my aspirations – I was categorically told that I was too timid to work in law. Despite this unhelpful comment, I used my drive and determination to push into my chosen profession and here I am with my own firm.
The SRA reported in 2021 that 56% of all lawyers in the UK are women. This data shows how far we’ve come and how challenging the status quo can make a difference. At the moment, Radshaw Solicitors has an all-female team – not by design, but it shows how many more women are now employed in our industry.
For me, International Women’s Day is a great day to celebrate the achievements of women not only in this and past generations, but the women that will achieve so much in years to come. It’s a day to be grateful for all the greats in the past that have helped us get to where we are now, the likes of The NASA women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.
Being a young woman, fresh from university and moving into the world of law, I didn’t realise just how much I would encounter gender bias. I have been on the receiving end of gender inequality many times. I have been overlooked for opportunities and promotions and worked twice as hard, but still not progressed as fast as my male counterparts. Of course, I challenged the companies I worked in, and although there was a shift, it wasn’t fast enough for me. My career wasn’t going to wait for others to catch up and it’s partly what led me to start my own business. I wanted an environment where there is no bias, and everyone is treated equally, no matter where they are from and what gender they are.
I’ve found that having a good network of people around me helps. It’s a great way of making sure you stay focused and supports you to achieve your goals. Keeping a positive and centred mindset also helps. It’s challenging to achieve continually, but I advocate pulling on the strength from the people around you – I will always be grateful to the people who have helped me along my journey.
I’ve kept the determination I felt in that first meeting with my career’s advisor throughout my professional life and I’ve faced gender inequality straight on. It’s not an easy task when you’re faced with bias just for being female, but it’s only by breaking the bias that we will achieve equality.
I am part of a great networking group that allows women in business to get together and support one another in their careers. Women In Business Network’s (WIBN) purpose is to create communities of businesswomen who build strong relationships. It has given me a safe place to network and support other women.
I also host regular talks with two other great women, Maria from M Power Group and Tor from Tors Law. We have all come across bias while on our journey to becoming lawyers, so we chat about the adversity that we have overcome, our stories, experiences and how we got to where we are now.
The future is everything
I’d like to think that we could achieve some similarity in the levels of senior women in law going forward. Only 35% of women are partners in law firms in the UK (SRA.org 2021 data), which is a large gap that we need to level up. We must encourage our future lawyers and leaders and provide workplaces that uplift women. I will continue to promote learning by sharing our experiences and equipping women in law with tools through our talks. Our aim is to provide a safe platform of encouragement and help to foster inspiration. We must work together to promote gender parity for now and our future generations to come.
If you’re interested in taking part in one of Adela’s talks, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.