The Part Time Power list, a national compilation of the UK’s top 50 individuals working in senior, business critical roles, published by Timewise earlier this month caught my eye as both a recruiter and as a part time and agile worker myself.
My reasons for working a four day week are pretty stereotypical; returning from maternity leave at the beginning of this year I wanted that extra day a week to spend with my daughter, sort the house out and catch up with family and friends. However, the list featured both men and women with various reasons for wanting to work either part time or flexibly.
From the 50 individuals listed, the majority were women however 11 from the 50 were men, reflecting a growing national trend for men with young families to want to work part time or flexibly in order to share parental responsibilities with their partners. We have witnessed this trend first hand as increasing numbers of our male candidates tell us that a main motivator for looking to move jobs is so that they can gain a better work/life balance and spend more time with their families.
Included in this years’ list was Simon Steedman, Partner and Head of Environment at Bates Wells Braithwaite. Simon started working four days a week (including two half days from home) following the birth of his daughter thus enabling his wife, Gail, to also enjoy a hugely successful career of her own. Commenting, Simon said that he hopes that BWB ‘can be an example for other companies to continue the normalisation of a more equal approach to the sharing of parental responsibilities.’
Sonia Campbell, Partner at Addleshaw Goddard also made the list. Sonia switched to part time working following the birth of her first child in 2001 and as her family has grown has switched to working full time during term time only, normally taking all school holidays off to be with her children. A working pattern which is rarely encountered but potentially far more helpful to parents of children that are school age than your standard four day week.
Victoria Parry, Partner and Head of the UK Employment practice at Osborne Clarke also featured. Victoria works four days a week and was the first lawyer in the UK to be made a partner whilst working part time in 2003. Impressively, Victoria continues to practice as one of the UK’s most prominent employment lawyers whilst raising four young children!
Susan Dearden, Equity Partner at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co was the final lawyer who reached the top 50. Susan leads the women’s networking programme at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co and is deputy chair of the Midlands Two Percent Club, which encourages women to seek NED board positions. Susan also works four days a week.
There was a pattern throughout the Power Part Time List of individuals working a four day week, not many three day week workers featured although there were a few and a couple of job sharers were also included. It seems that in the main you still need to be able to commit to a four day week for most high level jobs. We also see this within legal recruitment; firms are increasingly open to considering candidates who can work four days a week but it is still difficult (though not impossible!) to place those looking to work less.
Here at BCL Legal, we are always keen to find out as much as possible about your personal/family situation so that we can help you find the most suitable opportunities for your lifestyle. We also encourage you to be open to potential employers about your family situation and if you need to be home by 5/6pm in the evenings tell them. You’d be surprised at how flexible employers can be nowadays.
We will also help to negotiate part time or flexible working options for you. A strong candidate on a four day week basis will generally be the preference over a mediocre candidate who can work full time. Chances are that the stronger candidate will be just as productive in four days as a weaker candidate on five. The bonus for the employer of course is that your salary will be pro rata.
Firms have recognised the need to promote agile working in order to retain and attract the best lawyers and we can guide you on which firms have the strongest policies in place and provide advice in terms of where these opportunities exist.
If you would like a confidential discussion regarding your next career move, please contact Angharad Warren at BCL Legal. Angharad specialises in the placement of lawyers into Birmingham’s leading commercial firms and can also put you in touch with the most relevant consultant to you depending on location and specialism.