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BUSINESS: Increasing Role Of Women In Business

 



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Three leading Cape Town-based lawyers who head up key practice groups at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, have spoken out on the challenges that women face in the business world, ahead of Women’s Day on 9 August. Women constitute around 24 percent of the firm’s shareholding and directors and the firm is also the only full service business law firm with a Level 2 Contributor BEE status.

Terry Winstanley, a director and national head of the firm’s Environmental Law practice, has been named the “doyenne of environmental law” in South Africa by Practical Law Company, a leading provider of global market intelligence.

Demographics are changing and more women are graduating in business than ever before. The need to retain talented people, who often are women, is beginning to require shifts in business thinking,” says Terry.

Our firm continually looks at ways to address our people’s needs to balance client and family demands. We have for example, introduced shorter working hours and flexitime, with a pro rata cut in budget for new mothers.

The firm’s transformation committee and management team are conscious of making the firm a happy, more nurturing place where talented people can grow and thrive and still enjoy a balanced lifestyle.”

Gillian Lumb, a director and the regional practice head of the firm’s Employment Law practice, and a member of the transformation committee, agrees. “We are a firm that looks to accommodate all people of quality, irrespective of gender or race.

Evidence of this approach is the number of women in director and senior management positions in the firm. Three of the key, most successful practice groups are headed at national level by women.

Petra Krusche is a director and the regional practice head of the firm’s Competition practice in Cape Town. She feels that many of the issues are not so much rooted in the male female differences, but are related to the time spent in the turnover/earnings relationship of the legal profession.

As in most professions, time spent has an effect on earnings. If time invested is reduced, the financial benefit is also often less. How much one earns is dependent on skills, what one is able to offer and what one has to give up in the process. The firm will endeavour to find ways to create a win-win situation, but ultimately, the decision is a matter of personal choice,” she says.

In years to come, many more women will be working in the legal profession. The firms that remain at the top will be those that are taking the initiative in finding ways to make enable women to enjoy a successful and balanced lifestyle.

Petra adds that law is a profession well suited to women. “The legal profession commands brain work, offers a fair degree of flexibility and provides good recognition for skilled people.”


 
 
 
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