Helen Green

Challenging Assumptions

A recent Bar Council report revealed that although levels of sexism and harassment have reduced, sexist attitudes still prevail in some quarters. One aspect of this, is that female barristers tend to be pigeonholed into accepting family law or sexual crime cases, whether this is an area of the law in which they are interested or not.

Whilst the practice of the law is a fairly specialised area, pigeonholing people against their wishes is not confined to the bar, nor can discrimination be seen to be the sole reason for task allocation. One of the prime aspects of a good leader is the development of people. But how often do we make assumptions about the abilities and potential of those in our team, thereby affecting their future career path?

It’s an age-old story within business. Someone joins the team at a fairly junior level and no matter how well they carry out their duties they are forever viewed by the leadership in that junior capacity. When positions at a more senior level become vacant, new members of staff are appointed at the higher level, leaving the individual no choice but to move organisations in order to secure progression. In the process, the original business loses a valuable member of the team, simply because the leadership fell into the trap of pigeonholing the individual.

People development should not be confined to those who join an organisation at a senior level, nor should assumptions be made about the future prospects of any individual without a thorough appraisal of the potential allied to the provision of suitable training. Leaders who fail to develop their people are failing the organisation and that is something which should not be tolerated on any level.