As leaders, we have a social responsibility to #EmbraceEquity

8th March 2023
Carol Parsons

Carol Parsons, Head of ATE at DAS Group

There is a line on the IWD 2023 website that really resonates with me: “Equity acknowledges that people don’t begin life in the same place, and that circumstances can make it more difficult for people to achieve the same goals.”

So true for a 15 year old girl who was told at a career fair that perhaps the legal profession may not be the most appropriate choice. I attended a state Grammar School, was expected to do well and was interested in the law. Instead, the man behind the desk saw a young woman with a Mediterranean heritage and made an assumption.

That was in the late 80s and since then I have been fortunate to have had a successful legal career and am now Head of ATE at DAS.

Although my route to qualification wasn’t straight forward I was determined to prove that I could succeed. I completed my law degree whilst working and secured a training contract at a large Bristol law firm where I went on to become a Partner.

But determination alone wasn’t the only reason I succeeded. In part it was also down to the opportunities I was presented with and the choices that I made.

I worked for a senior partner who had an innate sense of what needed changing in the industry both in terms of the legal landscape but also in terms of opportunity for young and aspiring lawyers regardless of social identity. My aspiration was to not follow a contemporary career path but to take the chances given to me; getting involved with different projects, new campaigns, organising international conferences, providing legal support on ground breaking Court of Appeal cases, and running a department that many of my colleagues would have given a wide berth to.

This approach allowed me to develop skills that I might not otherwise have been able to, but without Bernie’s support and advocacy on my behalf I may well not have had those opportunities.

Did I make partner within the timeframe of some of my male contemporaries? Possibly not, but was I challenged to look at things through a different lens, to extend my breadth of experience and knowledge and to try new things, definitely.

Has that allowed me to adapt to circumstances that might otherwise have made it difficult for me to progress? Certainly. My current role at DAS came about through a desire to further develop my skill set which led to an opportunity to switch roles with a colleague.

Having the sponsorship of someone who can see your potential beyond the person they are looking at is a very powerful tool. As leaders in this industry it’s important to remember that we have the power to remove barriers and give people the opportunity to be the best version of themselves whatever our social identity.

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