‘I won’t pull up the ladder on other women’ says law firm CEO

New chief executive of Southport law firm Fletchers, Alex Hatchman, vows not to ‘pull up the ladder’ and be a role model for other women. Tony McDonough reports

Alex Hatchman
Alex Hatchman, chief executive of Fletchers Solicitors


Women who succeed in business have a “special responsibility” to support those who come after them, the head of a leading Merseyside law firm has said.

Alex Hatchman is the recently-appointed chief executive of Southport-based Fletchers Solicitors. The firm is the largest medical negligence and personal injury practice in the UK, specialising in serious injury, medical negligence law and motorbike accidents.

Although not a lawyer, Wirral-born Alex says she has a “genuine love for the law”. Her background is in business consulting and she spent 15 years working at an executive level in the UK retail sector working for blue-chip businesses including Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Accenture.

So she is more than qualified to run a business that employs around 450 people in Southport and Manchester. However, as a female executive in a number of roles she has encountered issues and perception which lead her to believe there is still a way to go before women are totally accepted in senior positions.

Alex joined Fletchers as a non-executive board member In 2016 but quickly moved into an executive role. She explained: “There was something about Fletchers that I just fell in love with.”

Now she is determined to be a role model for other women who aspire to executive positions. Talking about her career prior to joining Fletchers, she said: “I, like many if not most professional women, have faced issues that relate to my gender. Some of those issues have been explicit and conscious, and some of those issues have been tacit and unconscious.

“Having children was enlightening as I experienced things that I didn’t expect. For example, before returning to work after my first child, a senior advisor to the board called me to check if I was ‘still the same Alex, as women can sometimes go a bit funny after having children’.

“While it was difficult realising that the world of work was unfair, I’m glad it happened as it opened my eyes to the world as it is, and not as I imagined it to be. In learning this lesson I can play a small part in helping resolve it, both for my daughter and for other women who come after.”

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Alex Hatchman says women who aspire to executive roles are still facing barriers


According to the 30% Club, a global organisation set up in 2010 to increase gender diversity at board and executive level in large businesses, there has been progress in recent years but there was still much work to be done. Its original aim was to achieve a minimum of 20% female representation on FTSE 100 boards by 2015.

That target was actually reached in September 2018 and the percentage currently stands at 35.6%, up from 12.5% when the campaign started. The 30% target for FTSE 350 boards was reached in September 2019 and now stands at 33.8%.

Both targets were minimum objectives and the campaign aims to keep pushing on to make further progress. The scale of the task was brought into shape focus in 2018 when the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy listed some anonymous quotes from chairmen and chief executives of FTSE 350 companies. They included:

  • “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”.
  • “There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex”.
  • “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”.
  • “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board”.

Alex  believes that many women are deterred from applying for leadership roles as they have an “inaccurate perception of what it takes to succeed”. The frames of reference for what it takes to succeed, she adds, are based on what has gone before which is why she believes it is critical to create more female role-models that other women can identify with.

“Those women that have succeeded have a special responsibility to then share their path, and not to pull the ladder up behind them,” said Alex.

As well as her new duties as chief executive, Alex also leads on strategy and innovation for Fletchers. In 2018 her contribution was recognised by the Law Society when she became the first person to win the national award for Excellence in Practice Management.

“It’s a privilege and an honour to lead our fantastic business,” she said. “I first joined Fletchers as a non-executive director in 2016, and at that time didn’t anticipate the amazing journey that we would go on together.

“We are now entering the next stage of our journey as a business, and if we continue focusing on serving customers and employing top talent, then the future is very bright.”

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