REVEALED: How #auslaw is faring with LGBTQI+ inclusion
New research, conducted by Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence, unveils the extent of progress made in fostering inclusive workplaces for legal professionals identifying as LGBTQI+.
In October 2020, Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence conducted a survey of 468 legal professionals across the country, examining their perceptions of efforts made by their employers, and the broader legal profession, to advance diversity and inclusion initiatives as they pertain to the experience of those identifying as LGBTQI+. The survey also enquired about cultural issues to extrapolate how far the profession may still have to go.
In this particular survey, 41 per cent of respondents said they identify as LGBTQI+.
When asked how important LGBTQI+ inclusion initiatives are to one’s firm or organisation, just under 60 per cent agreed it is important (24.8 per cent said it was “extremely important”, 15.7 per cent said it was “very important” and 17.5 per cent said it was “somewhat important”). At the other end, 15 per cent said it was “not so important” and 26.9 per cent said it was “not at all important”.
More than half of respondents feel that such inclusion initiatives made a difference for the better: 24.6 per cent said such initiatives have a “very positive” impact and 28.2 per cent said they are “positive” for the firm or organisation. Just 10 per cent of legal professionals, on the other hand, feel that such initiatives have a “negative” or “very negative” impact.
There appear to be mixed feelings about whether or not there have been improvements in LGBTQI+ inclusion efforts across the board.
When asked about efforts within their own firms or organisations, 43.9 said there have been improvements, while 61.8 per cent think that things have stayed the same. Perceptions were largely similar when asked about efforts across the legal profession, with 42.2 per cent noting they feel that there have been improvements while 53 per cent said things have stayed the same.
However, it seems that legal professionals believe that broader Australian society is performing better than the profession itself when it comes to LGBTQI+ inclusion initiatives.
Three-fifths (59.7 per cent) of respondents feel that Australian society has somewhat or significantly improved its advancement of such initiatives, with just one-third (35.4 per cent) saying things have remained the same.
Moreover, it is clear that legal professionals in Australia still think that more effort is required.
Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents said that the profession, as a whole, needs to do more to promote LGBTQI+ inclusion initiatives, while 35 per cent said that the profession does not need to do more.
Interestingly, fewer respondents think that their own employer should be doing more: 40.5 per cent said that their firm or organisation must do more to promote LGBTQI+ inclusion and 59.5 per cent feel that their organisation is doing enough.
Finally, when asked if their employer should be recognised for its inclusive initiatives and culture, as they pertain to the experience of LGBTQI+ professionals, 41 per cent of respondents said yes, while 59 per cent said no.
Speaking about the research, Momentum Intelligence research consultant Oliver Stofka said that Pride in Law is an area where research is “so important” in ensuring all voices are heard and everyone is more aware of the work that still needs to be done in the area.
“The results from this year’s survey indicate that there are leaps being made forward in the inclusive nature of firms, but also reminds us that there is still work to be done to ensure that everyone regardless of gender feels welcome and included,” he advised.
“We’d like to thank everyone that took part in this critical research to bring all these important issues to light.”
In the coming fortnight, Lawyers Weekly will unveil further findings from the research, including breakdowns of perceptions from LGBTQI+ identifying and non-LGBTQI+ identifying legal professionals.