Foreword from Ann Harrison, Chairwoman of Stephensons
Throughout the history of the firm, we have always recognised the talent of the women in our business. Chris Stephenson, the founder of the firm, was always very keen to encourage those returning from maternity leave back into the firm by offering part time working or varied hours where appropriate.
Looking back in time we have always adopted a flexible approach to employment, allowing people to work part time, or to work varied hours to suit their needs, and to assist in balancing the demands of childcare against the pressures of work.
In more recent years we have taken a more formal approach to this, introducing policies which confirmed and supported our approach eg flexible working, flexi-time and agile working policies, not to mention holiday sale and purchase schemes. All of these policies are intended to reinforce our belief that work and home life can and should be balanced. We recognise that it is hard balancing the demands of a family with the pressures of work. Anything that we as a firm can do to help find that balance has to be a step in the right direction.
I like to think that this firm has always recognised the best talent, irrespective of gender. Over the years we have promoted people for their ability to do the job, for their efforts and contribution in building our firm.
And our approach has definitely succeeded as you can see from the following statistics:
- 42% of our equity partners are women
- Two out of five board members are female
- 56% of our salaried partners are women
- The vast majority of our female partners have been with Stephensons throughout their working lives.
I suppose that I am a classic example of what I would call a “Stephensons’ woman”. I joined the practice in 1991 as an assistant solicitor, became a partner in 1993, and an equity partner in 1997. I’ve been on the board since 2002, and have been both managing partner and chairwoman of the firm. Looking back I’ve had a brilliant time and am very proud to have played my part in the success of the firm.
And it isn’t just me, look around at the women in the firm who hold senior positions:
- Our finance director - Catherine Powell
- Head of our largest worktype, litigation, Louise Griffiths, ably assisted by two female departmental managers in Judith Thomas-Whittingham and Kate Sweeney
- Head of another major worktype is Victoria Gethin, head of our family team who is supported by Mandy Rimmer, department manager of our Wigan family team
- Head of our marketing department – Sarah Boustouller
- HR Lead – Kerry Leigh
Space prevents me from naming all of the other women departmental managers, both in worktypes and support services, all of whom do an excellent job in running their teams and contributing to building a great firm.
And we have so many more amazing young women coming up through the ranks, which is excellent news for the future of the firm.
As I approach my retirement date I am delighted and proud to be able to say that I have worked alongside some of the best and most able women in the north west of England! I hope that this article and the information about our women below goes some way to celebrate their success!
The women of Stephensons
2019 marks the 100-year anniversary of women being able to work in the legal profession. The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 made it possible for women to to pursue various careers, including law, and Stephensons are pleased to employ many exceptional, talented women across all areas of the firm.