The phrase “what a man can do a woman can do better” is often used as a rallying cry for gender equality intended to encourage and empower women in different workplaces.

Historically, the legal profession has been dominated by the male gender, especially in leadership positions and higher ranks. However, in recent years there has been a commendable increase in the number of women joining and succeeding in legal practice. The role of women in driving progress in the legal profession has since become increasingly significant and of great importance today.

The legal profession around the world recognises the need for gender diversity and inclusion and to that end has made major strides to advance Goal #5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Investing in women bestows the power to create an immense impact in accelerating progress in the legal workplace.

Accelerating progress in a workplace entails implementing strategies and initiatives to enhance productivity, innovation, and overall success. The key elements that contribute to accelerating progress include; a clear vision and goals, leadership and management, diversity and inclusion, innovation and creativity, recognition and rewards, collaboration as well and client centricity.

Whereas progress has been made, the legal profession still faces challenges in achieving gender parity. Investing in women is not just a matter of equality, it is the kind of initiative that brings numerous benefits to firms, clients, and the community.

There are varied benefits of investing in women and also varied ways in which such investments can serve as a catalyst for accelerating progress at the workplace and this requires addressing systemic barriers that hinder women’s progress.

Legislative amendments are a practical step that can be taken to invest in women. The Employment (Amendment) Bill 2022 for example, has proposed compulsory nursery spaces for new mothers and the inclusion of a scope for “sexual harassment” at the workplace. This is a step in the right direction and should be passed into law with enforcement measures. Other initiatives include addressing the gender pay gap, enabling an environment for work-life balance, childcare, flexible work hours and deliberate promotion of women in workplaces.

These initiatives cultivate a work environment that recognises the needs of the female gender which consequently allows them to thrive while also creating diversity at the workplace. A workplace that values and invests in women achieves an inclusive organisational structure that improves overall employee morale, engagement, talent retention and attraction which accelerates progress.

Clients are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of diversity in the legal teams that represent them. By investing in women, law firms demonstrate a commitment to understanding and addressing a broad range of client needs. This not only enhances client satisfaction but also builds trust, making clients more likely to choose and stick with firms that value diversity.

The need for a change in attitude and lens through which women are seen will cause a ripple effect as one reaches one and together, we can create an inclusive workplace in which women can excel.

 This Women’s Month let us remember that women have the power to create, nurture and transform the workplace which will accelerate progress.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples,”
– Mother Teresa

Author:
Mbekeka Vanessa Irene Muneeza
Tax Associate, AF Mpanga Advocates

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