Pinsent Masons has unveiled a ground-breaking programme aimed at improving the law firm’s gender balance at the highest level.

‘Project Sky’ is aiming to achieve an improved gender balance in the firm’s partnership and senior leadership team by removing barriers preventing women to progress to the highest levels within the business.

The programme, which is being led by employment partner Linda Jones, is aiming to see women make up 30 per cent of the firm’s partnership, with an initial milestone of reaching a figure of 25 per cent by May 2018.

As well as improving the gender balance at partner level the firm says it is also aiming to encourage and support talent across the business irrespective of gender.

The launch of Project Sky follows consultation with staff on the issue in conjunction with Female Breadwinners, a consultancy specialising in gender issues.

It will involve a number of initiatives to promote more transparent career development, greater accessibility to flexible or agile working, more structured support around parental leave and training to help identify and address subconscious bias.

Practice group heads have also been asked to consider whether the gender balance of shortlists for promotion to partner, legal director and senior associate positions reflect the composition of their teams.

Ms Jones said: “Currently more than 20 per cent of the Pinsent Masons partnership is female while two out of nine people on our board are women, benchmarking well against comparable firms in the professional services sector.

“However, around 70 per cent of the lawyers coming into the business are female while the proportion of women in partnership is fairly static.”

She added: “If we are to properly utilise that talent changes are required. The steps we are taking are aimed at improving our gender balance at senior levels but will ultimately mean better working practices for all our staff.”

Chris Mullen, senior partner of Pinsent Masons, said: “As a contributing factor to the firm’s future success, it is important that the firm’s workforce is diverse and reflects the communities in which we operate.

“We have an exceptionally talented group of lawyers within the firm and we are committed to providing an attractive culture and a working environment which enables all our people to develop and give their best.”