Tamar Tammes: Why I don’t want to be celebrating International Women’s Day

Tamar Tammes

Today I will be proudly supporting IWD2019, as will the law firm of which I am managing partner.

In addition to striking the #BalanceForBetter pose, I and colleagues across the firm will be taking part in events and activities throughout 8 March, including the Women Inspired Gala Lunch organised by our long-term charity partner Street Soccer Scotland.

IWD is a fantastic global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

Apparently the first International Women’s Day occurred way back in 1911, and it has gained real momentum over the years – to the point that it is now an influential and agenda-setting global phenomenon.

And quite right too. Gender balance is essential for economies, communities, business and indeed law firms, in order for them to be healthy, fair and allow them to truly thrive. Balance is not just a women’s issue, it’s a business issue which affects the bottom line.

The fact that I am the first female managing partner at Burness Paull demonstrates how much has changed since 1911 when IWD was first started. The evolution of women in law has been charted by the incredible ‘First 100 Years’ project supported by the Law Society, Bar Council and CILEx – which highlights the journey we’ve been on since 1919 when the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time.

While things have improved immeasurably, with strong female leaders now in high-profile positions across the legal world, it’s been a long and slow process. And there is so much more to do.

More women than men are now entering the legal profession, but overall representation at the top level is still skewed in favour of men.

At Burness Paull equality and inclusion is right at the top of our agenda and we’ve made progress in the right direction, with a target of ensuring that 30 per cent of our partnership are women by 2020.

To underline our commitment to that I have joined The 30 per cent Club, and we have put in place Diversity Champions in each of our offices to promote equality and inclusion. New flexible and part-time working patterns have also been introduced to make it easier for women (and men) to balance the demands of work and home life – and try to ensure that working hours are not a blocker to anyone’s route to the top.

So we are changing and the wider legal sector is changing. I’d like to see it happen faster.

Going back to the headline of this article, I want things to change to the point that we don’t need International Women’s Day any more. Where balance is a given, and we celebrate equality and human rights regardless of gender. I hope it’s not going to take another 100 years to get there.

Tamar Tammes is managing partner at Burness Paull LLP

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