Ahead of International Women’s Day 2021, a number of Fletcherians shared their thoughts. Here’s what Senior Solicitor, Hannah Luscombe had to say:
What is your greatest achievement as a woman?
On 15th October 2017 I ran the Manchester Half Marathon with 14 colleagues at Fletchers Solicitors. I had never run before and the idea of running gave me flashbacks of loathed cross-country PE lessons in school! It dawned on me after signing up what a huge challenge this would be for me personally. I struggled to run even 2km on my first run, let alone 13 miles! However, I was motivated to take on the challenge to raise money for a charity helping tackle homelessness in Manchester and I was determined to run the entire distance given the sponsorship I received. I trained several times a week and completed long runs on Sundays. Training took over my life for 4-5 months and as a team we raised £4,255 including gift aid for the charity. I was very proud when I crossed the finish line and it was a fantastic teambuilding experience. A phobia of running has also turned into an enjoyable hobby, and I now enjoy running (for fun!) with a small group of my neighbours.
What is the biggest barrier you have overcome as a woman?
There are many studies which show a fear of failure is significantly more prevalent in women than men and that such fears can impact their career development and decisions, presenting a barrier to women. As a perfectionist combined with a legal education that included learning about case law where things have often gone wrong and examples of solicitors being “struck off”, I started out in practice with a relentless fear of making a mistake. I was convinced that if I made any mistake, that my career in law would be over. However, it is inevitable that mistakes are made – we are all human – and nobody is immune from failing at some point. I have personally learned that failing is a key part of success, personal growth, and progression. My mentor at Fletchers Solicitors once told me that if you never make a mistake, then you are not moving forwards or pushing yourself enough, which really helped me change my outlook on failure.
Can you give an example of a time you have challenged sexism/misogyny?
I can only speak of my own experiences and I have been fortunate not to have particularly experienced sexism / misogyny at work. I trained and subsequently qualified as a solicitor at a law firm with an all-female board of directors and most of my managers throughout my career have been women. It is possible that certain areas of law attract more women, as I also recall when I applied for vacation schemes and training contracts in personal injury and clinical negligence firms that most of the applicants were women.
Since moving to Fletchers in early 2017, I have predominantly had women managers and only had a very positive experience at the company where the culture and values of the firm prevail, and progression is fair and merit based. Our CEO, Alex Hatchman, is a woman and her inspirational leadership resulted in her being the first person to win a national legal award for Excellence in Practice Management.
What is your advice to young women on how to challenge sexism /misogyny they may encounter?
Whilst I did not intentionally set out to join a law firm with an all-female board at the start of my career (it was not something that I may necessarily have thought about at the time), my experience at the firms I have worked for would now lead me to consider and research whether a firm I was joining had adequate representation of women in leadership roles and their gender pay gap data.
If women do encounter sexism / misogyny, it is important that they tell someone about their experience to be supported. My advice would be to speak to their manager. If this is not possible, then speak to a trusted colleague or friend/family member.
What do you think makes a good ally to women? Or, do you have any allies in your own life/how have they supported you?
A good ally is someone who gives you confidence and champions you, someone that would speak out and support you. I have fantastic team members, colleagues, managers, and mentors that I would feel comfortable talking to, knowing that I would be supported and listened to. I have benefited a lot from mentoring at Fletchers and Ed Fletcher, our previous CEO, was a wonderful mentor to me. As well as dedicating his own time to me, he arranged for me to spend some time with several women role models in the firm which was extremely valuable. I have also benefited from having supportive managers who I would feel comfortable talking to.
Who are the inspirational women you look up to in your life? Are there any fellow Fletcherians who you consider inspirational?
This was a really difficult question, as I feel surrounded by inspirational women every day! From the fellow women in my team, to other team leaders and the management team, there is no shortage of incredible women role models. I have been able to learn so much from everybody I have worked with, especially my immediate managers, Kathryn Sharkey and Johanna Thompson, who truly have the ability to bring out the best in people.