IBA outlines plan to help young women lawyers progress to leadership roles

IBA president Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama announces ‘Ten Directives’ initiative to celebrate International Women’s Day

IBA president Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama Image courtesy of the International Bar Association

The International Bar Association has marked International Women’s Day by launching a 10-step plan to boost the number of young female lawyers advancing to senior leadership positions in the legal sector.

The ‘Ten Directives to Break the Glass Ceiling’ initiative was announced by IBA president Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama at a special International Women’s Day event bringing together more than 80 female lawyers from 30 different jurisdictions worldwide.

She emphasised the organisation’s commitment to gender equality and career advancement for women in law, building on the launch of a diversity toolkit at the IBA Annual Conference in Paris back in October and last year’s IBA Women’s Day.

Arpón de Mendívil said: “Women lawyers from all over the planet have reached senior positions. They are path markers who should guide the next generation to achieve success. This is why I have launched my ‘Ten Directives’.”

She said she was particularly proud that the event was growing in scale and guided by shared principles, saying: “This is so powerful. This joint strength, combined with capacity, commitment, ambition, and merits, should get talented women lawyers to the places where decisions are made.

“Together, we should accelerate change, convincing others, males and females, to join us in that direction. We must recall that lawyers have a special responsibility in this field given that gender equality is a matter of law.”

The ‘Ten Directives’ were launched at a virtual gathering led by Arpón de Mendívil alongside Maria-Pia Hope, managing partner at Vinge, and Siân Keall, partner at Travers Smith, co-authors of the directives.

The speakers outlined actionable steps and conducive workplace environments for advancing women lawyers into prominent positions. The IBA president said such steps had been kept as simple as possible to facilitate their adoption.

Speaking to GLP, Keall said: “Supporting young associates achieve senior roles within their organisations continues to be a strategic imperative for any successful law firm and is something we put an awful lot of thought into at Travers Smith.

“This is why Maria-Pia and I have worked with the IBA to launch the ‘Ten Directives’ today. I am delighted to be involved in [this IBA] event for the second time after its inaugural event last year when Travers Smith hosted the UK Attorney General in front of an audience drawn from all areas of the legal community.”

The directives are categorised into individual actions and organisational strategies to foster a supportive environment for women’s career progression. The event also served as a platform for participants to introduce themselves, enhancing visibility for associates and partners and strengthening the global network of women in law.

The event is part of the IBA’s broader strategy to combat gender inequality at senior levels within the law, which also supports the ambitious ‘50/50 by 2030’ project launched in 2021. That project aims to achieve gender parity in senior legal roles through a comprehensive nine-year global study, which seeks to uncover the root causes of gender disparity and evaluate the effectiveness of diversity initiatives.

It has published findings from several jurisdictions, including England and Wales, Uganda, Spain, Nigeria, the Netherlands and Chile.

These efforts underscore the IBA’s dedication to fostering a more inclusive and equitable legal profession, for which it has been shortlisted for an award at next week’s Women and Diversity in Law Awards.

Email your news and story ideas to: news@globallegalpost.com