Chambers celebrates International Women's Day on Tuesday 8th March marking the achievements of women across the globe and raising awareness against bias and prejudice. Indeed, 2022 focuses on the theme of “Breaking the Bias” with our members and pupil barristers looking at how we can achieve gender balance and equality in our workplaces and communities.
Joint Head of Chambers, Gillian Jones QC said:
There are so many ways in our daily working lives in which we can #BreaktheBias, to ensure a more inclusive and diverse environment, where difference is valued and celebrated. Bias, whether deliberate or unconscious, makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Whether it is standing up to bias or discrimination, by speaking out when we see it, or having the ability to turn to others for support, we can ensure that change is not just discussed but becomes a reality. We need to set clear plans and targets around equality, diversity and inclusion that not only support women’s access into the profession but ensures their retention and progression into senior roles. I strongly believe we each have a role to play in breaking down barriers and committing to a more inclusive place of work. I am going to take a moment today to recognise and thank those who inspired and paved the way for me. Whether it is acting as a mentor, a role model, through support networks or making time to listen, I intend to play my role in ensuring that we #BreaktheBias.
This Friday I am going to support the work of Clean Break Theatre and their latest production at the Almeida Theatre in partnership with All Change and Graeae called “The Keyworkers Cycle: More than we can Bear’ which explores the stories and experiences of Women’s Centre workers. I have been on the theatre’s development committee for many years and support the charity’s amazing work in bringing positive change to women and girls who get caught up in the criminal justice system or are at risk of entering it.
HEAR WHAT OUR MEMBERS HAD TO SAY
Allison Clare QC
As part of IWD and the #BreakTheBias campaign, I will be redoubling my efforts to ensure chambers and solicitors have meaningful fees information which allow them to track and address the very real and very current gender pay gap at the Bar. Please do something about it today.
For the Bar: download the toolkit here: [Bar Council Ethics]
Breaking the bias against women in the legal system requires finding your voice. Recently I had a hearing which was delayed two hours due to the court backlogs. As the clock ticked past 4pm I simply had to explain that I could only stay until 5pm as I needed to pick my daughter up. As a junior member of the Bar, I was nervous about raising this but formed the view that unless I was prepared to speak up- the courtroom could be seen as not a place for women who choose to be parents. When I did, the Judge was very accommodating.
Grace Khaile (Pupil Barrister)
It is vital to keep on recognising and celebrating women’s achievements all year round and especially on IWD. It is important for women or anyone who identifies as a woman to know of all those giants who came before us so we know it can be done and to also use those achievements as motivation when things are made to be difficult for us. I look at my own personal history, most people think of the Apartheid Regime and think of the efforts of Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko (as they should) but it is important to remember the efforts of women like Winnie Mandela and more personally my own mother, without their determination I would not be where I am. They are my inspiration for choosing a career at the Bar.
RLC MEMBERS BLOG FOR THE BAR COUNCIL
Valerie Charbit will be partnering with Professor Robin Banerjee ( Professor of Developmental Psychology and the Director for the Sussex Kindness Institute) to bring his experience and knowledge to co-create a program on how to enhance the best of the bar and develop ‘Kindness at the Bar’.
Valerie Charbit wrote about the new campaign for the Bar Council where she said:
Women who reach the top of their profession do so because they are truly excellent at what they do. We need to make sure there are more of them. Women make good leaders very often because they have highly developed skills from a combination of their working life and home life responsibilities. This in turn can mean that they are particularly well-positioned to lead and help others. Women may do so with the support of men but it is women’s resilience and their awareness and ability to relate to others that enhances the fact that they can be kind to others and spread kindness.
Zoë Chapman and Kitan Ososami (Pupil Barrister)
Zoe Chapman and pupil barrister Kitan Ososami wrote about the issues being faced at the Bar by women, in particular around gender, race and class. They commented:
“The Criminal Bar is increasingly concerned with shining an interrogatory light on its own attitudes and practices to make itself more diverse, more accessible, and ultimately more reflective of the society it serves. However, although the Criminal Bar is amongst the more diverse sections of the profession, in terms of gender, race and class, it would be naïve to think this absolves it from criticism or further work. There is still much work to be done in terms of proper transparency around entry and progression within the profession, equal pay and fair allocation of work, unconscious bias and anti-racism training. So many have said this before us and identifying the issues alone will not achieve equality. Finally, then, to ‘Break the Bias’, we need less talk and more action!”
SUPPORT OUR PARTNER CHARITIES
Chambers have been long standing supporters of the charity Clean Break who change lives and minds through theatre – on stage, in prison and in the community. Founded in 1979 by two women in prison who believed in the power of theatre to transform lives, Clean Break has an unparalleled reputation for award-winning theatre. On 14 March, the charity will be hosting a free online event called “Breaking the Bias; Women, Criminalisation and Barriers to Creative Industries” from 6-7.15pm [Clean Break - Breaking The Bias Webinar]
The event will look at the barriers women face, the bias the creative industry holds, and what best practice looks like for creative industries who are looking to develop their practice and become more accessible, inclusive spaces. The event will include performances and panellists who are experts in the fields of employment for women with convictions, and social mobility and cultural policy.
The event is connected to Clean Break’s “Women and Girls Match Fund campaign”, with bookers encouraged to pledge to support the campaign in lieu of paying for a ticket.
Donations can only be made online from 8 to 15 March here: [Donate - The Big Give]
More info on Clean Break theatre here: [Clean Break]
Centre for Women's Justice
The Centre for Women’s Justice aims to help women and girls who are subject to male violence get better access to legal remedies to defend and enhance their rights.
The Women & Girls Match Fund is a match funding campaign for charities that are working to improve the lives of vulnerable, disadvantaged or underrepresented women and girls in England and Scotland.
The CWJ will also be collecting donations led by the Big Give via the “ Women and Girls Match Fund campaign.” Donations can be made from 8-15 March and will be match funded by the Big Give.
Please support the work of CWJ and donate here: [Donate - The Big Give]
More info on CWJ here: [Centre for Women's Justice]