Amanda Jones will start in the newly-created role in October. Regarding her appointment, she commented that women are still often viewed as a minority despite making up more than half of the workforce.
“Firstly, the important thing to remember is that women are not a minority; they account for more than 50% of the workforce," she told HR magazine. "Sometimes that point can get lost when we discuss diversity in the workplace. It can be difficult, but this isn’t a competition. There will be different challenges facing every group in society and that will affect everyone in different ways."
The news follows a UK tech company, who wished to remain anonymous, last month announcing that it was recruiting an interim chief feminism officer (CFO).
News of the Dentons appointment also follows networking group AllBright (aimed specifically at supporting women in the workplace) announcing the appointment of a male group chair, which drew criticism from campaigners for women's equality at work.
Following campaigns such as #MeToo and ongoing reports of gender pay gaps, women should be priority candidates for these types of roles, said Jones in response to the news.
“It should always be about the best person for the job, and there is no reason why a man shouldn’t be able to do a job for women’s advancement if they are right for the role. And of course this isn’t about outperforming men," she said.
"However, I think that in light of everything that has happened over the past few years with women at work, it’s important that these roles are taken by women to show that they are credible, and are well placed to do the job."
Jones went on to discuss the issues that women in law face, with a lack of progression a primary concern.
“The majority of law graduates are women, but that is not represented in senior positions within the company. The common argument is that this takes time but this isn’t a new problem; this has been ongoing. We need to see this as imperative, and recognise that we are losing hugely talented people within our industry. As well as everything else, it’s bad business sense,” she said.
Dentons is aiming for 30% representation of women in senior positions by 2020.
“The reasons for [historic] lack of progression are complex, and they are down to a culmination of things," said Jones. "We want to look at flexibility, and maternity and paternity pay in the workplace. We also want to look at the cultural aspects of the sector, to understand how we can make it a better place to work for women.”
Jones added that improving workplace cultures is critical in attracting talent.
“We know that culture is extremely important to the future workforce," she said. "With Brexit, skill shortages, and other challenges the battle for talent is becoming more pronounced. So we need to make sure we see this as a necessity.”