Identifying obstacles to career progression

21 May, 2020

While the guidance has changed to allow property buying and selling to re-start it seems it will take some time for, whatever the new usual will be, to develop. However, it will do so, and we want to use this period now as best we can to make sure that when it does conveyancing and probate businesses can attract and develop the best talent to help them thrive.

Managers of CLC-regulated firms have often told us that they look for candidates with strong people skills, who can engage naturally and effectively with clients who are going through very significant life events. Those people can then be given the legal training they need for their particular discipline. Some may go on to qualify as Conveyancing or Probate Technicians and some will want to have a full Licensed Conveyancer or Probate Practitioner licence so that they can supervise others, take on managerial roles, or in time even set up their own businesses.

Entry for the CLC qualifications and so to our part of the legal profession is very accessible and many firms do a fantastic job supporting new recruits up the career ladder, developing their skills, expertise and professional competence.

Like other parts of the legal sector, the majority of entrants to the CLC regulated community are women. There are many women who have made a great career in conveyancing or probate including opening their own businesses. But they have not been making it through to leadership roles in firms in the proportions that you would expect. Similarly, people from ethnic minority backgrounds aren’t achieving the same career progression as their white colleagues. This is despite them getting the same support as their peers from employers at the early stages of the career and as they qualify.

So it looks as though firms are not getting the most out of the investment they are making in employees who could have much to give in more senior roles.

Because this is such a persistent issue, the CLC is taking steps to understand better the causes of the obstacles to career progression for people in the regulated community. And on the basis of this we can then look to develop guidance and advice so everybody can make the best of what their career offers.

The CLC wants to understand better the obstacles to career progression for those groups. We also want to hear of any successes firms have had in removing obstacles. So we want to use this period when you may have a little more time to think beyond the day-job to start collecting evidence through an anonymous online survey. There are two fundamentally important reasons to do this work now and for firms to support it:

  • It is the right thing to do: We all want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.
  • It will be good for business: Diverse teams get better results and will be able to engage better with clients from all backgrounds.

We are asking everyone in the sector to think about what obstacles to career progression they have experienced themselves or seen in their workplaces. We expect that people at all levels of the business – whether qualified lawyers or not – could have something to contribute to this evidence-gathering.

Sometimes when work like this is underway, people who are already in senior roles can feel that they are being criticised in some way. That is absolutely not what this is about.

The truth is, the obstacles that exist to career progression for women and ethnic minorities, disabled people, and other groups, are often hard to see. We do need to obtain a wide range of views so we can all begin to understand what is happening before we can develop with you the means to address them.

We expect that we will find very subtle issues at play. Such things as how a part-time worker’s contribution is assessed and rewarded and how that affects promotion, for example. Or how confident a disabled person feels about explaining the adjustments that would help them in the workplace.

So please help us by completing the survey. By gathering and working on the basis of the evidence collected we will be better placed to work with you to develop practical solutions. We have asked firms to circulate the link to the questionnaire to all employees, not just qualified lawyers and we would ask that you encourage all colleagues to consider sharing their views.

The survey is entirely anonymous so neither respondents nor firms will be identified.

The link is here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NYWG72Y

 

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