Women make up 65% of newly promoted Eversheds Sutherland international partners

Landmark set as majority of partners made up across UK, EMEA and Asia are female for first time

Everhsheds Sutherland has achieved a major landmark in its bid to improve the gender diversity of its workforce, promoting a majority of women to partner across its international network for the first time.

Some 20 (65%) out of 31 newly made up partners across the firm’s non-US business are female, representing a gender balance that remains an outlier for leading business law firms.

The previous high-water mark for the proportion of female appointments was 47% in 2020 with that balance dipping to 41% last year, when nine of the 22 partners made up were women.

Lee Ranson, CEO of the firm’s international arm, said: “This talented group are all rising stars in their respective fields, and their promotions recognise their technical expertise, deep sector knowledge and their outstanding commitment to client service. I am particularly pleased to see such a strong cohort of female talent stepping forward into senior roles.”

The firm is currently revising its diversity targets, its most recent gender diversity goal for 30% of its partners to be women by 2021 having been narrowly missed. As of September 2021, 28% of the partnership were women.

A spokesperson said: “We had a 30% target by for female partners 2021 and we knew this would be a challenge. We didn’t reach this goal so are now revising the target and target date and working on a range of solutions to recruit, develop and retain female talent. This includes embedding more inclusive hiring practices, and offering coaching and sponsorship to our talented female lawyers to help them achieve partnership.”

In terms of geography, 19 of the new partners are based across the firm’s UK network of offices. On the European continent there were two promotions in Milan and Paris with one apiece in Madrid, Prague and Hamburg. Elsewhere, there were two promotions in Johannesburg, two in Doha and one in Mauritius. 

Nearly half the new partners (15) hail from the corporate commercial practice; six are from employment, labour and pensions; five from employment, labour and pensions; four from real estate; and one from the firm’s new law arm Konexo, Cardiff-based Gemma Pendlebury.

Alongside its gender diversity target now being revised, the firm has a target for 10% of its UK partnership to be from an ethnic minority background. That figure currently stands at 6.9% and none of the new partners this year identified as being from an ethnic minority background.

An additional target for 14% of the total UK headcount to be from ethnic minorities by 2022 has been met. That figure stands at 15.3% and the firm said it was looking to revise the target upwards.

Also this week, Linklaters promoted 17 women out of a total of 41 new partners in a promotions round that beat the firm’s diversity targets for a second year running. However, London independent Macfarlanes conceded it still had “a way to go” in achieving its diversity ambitions when it unveiled eight new partners, just two of whom are women.

Linklaters’ Magic Circle rival, Slaughter and May, found itself in a similar position last month, when just one of its eight new partners was a women.

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