Ropes & Gray London partner Eve Ellis on why the firm's gender policy convinced her to join the firm
From the perspective of gender equality how does the environment in which you work now compare to the one you began your career in?
I have been very fortunate to have been supported throughout my career by great role models. This is particularly the case at Ropes & Gray and one of the reasons I joined the firm was because of our approach to gender equality and diversity more generally. The proof of the premium we put on having the right people and our belief that the strongest teams are diverse teams is borne out in our London statistics, a few of which are really worth highlighting - Ropes & Gray’s London office has 140 fee-earners (46% female), including 25 partners (43% female) and 12 counsel (58% female), we’ve been ranked as having the highest proportion of female equity partners than any firm in London and in my practice area, Asset Management, 75% of our partners are women.
What initiatives do you have in place at your firm to promote gender equality? Does your firm have other diversity programmes?
Gender equality and diversity are integral to Ropes & Gray’s culture and we have many initiatives in this area.
All lawyers are encouraged to commit at least 20 hours a year to activities and initiatives that promote the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse lawyers. This is classified as billable time and is counted towards hours targets for bonus payments.
As part of our trainee recruitment process, we have a contextual recruitment tool built into our application screening process and we carry out blind assessments. We also collaborate with SEO as part of our ethnic minority and social mobility outreach. This year, we are running targeted virtual campus events for female students as well as LGBTQ+ students.
We are reviewing the staffing system to remove any bias and ensure there is an equitable distribution of work and opportunity.
In London, we have a London diversity committee and London diversity employee group and have conducted a London diversity survey to understand what diversity and inclusion issues our office is facing and to understand how we can best target our diversity and inclusion efforts to promote our work community in London.
We have a range of network groups. These include: a parent’s network as well as women’s networks for lawyers and for business support professionals.
We’ve also recently started the pilot of a parental leave programme which is focused on assisting and supporting individuals when they become a new parent. The programme is designed to provide a comprehensive suite of support, guidance and tools that can be tailored to an individual’s experience in terms of preparing them for leave, assisting throughout their time away, and helping them feel confident about hitting the ground running on their return.
We offer a range of online resources for our people. These include a wellbeing hub, a caregivers hub aimed at supporting people who were homeschooling over lockdown and resources for parents with children who have learning difficulties.
What advice would you give to women in junior positions to encourage them to work towards attaining senior positions?
Be confident in your ability, work with a diverse range of people, step out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to ask for help.