New findings from the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner (VLSB+C) reveal the impact of workplace culture for practitioners in the Garden State.
Last year, VLSB+C conducted a survey of 881 Victoria-based lawyers about how they view the culture of their workplaces. Over three-quarters (76 per cent) of those surveyed said that their workplace culture has had a more positive effect on their overall wellbeing compared to having a negative impact.
Interestingly, almost half (49 per cent) of all respondents who said that their workplace culture has had a more positive than negative impact on their wellbeing cited their workplace’s response to COVID-19 as one of the reasons for that response. This, VLSB+C noted, was “reassuring”.
It was “encouraging”, VLSB+C chief executive Fiona McLeay mused, to see that so many are finding their time in the workplace to be “generally positive”.
However, when broken down by gender, the findings tell a slightly different story.
Almost three in 10 (29 per cent) women said that the impact of workplace culture was more negative than positive, compared to just 17 per cent of men.
Moreover, nearly half (47 per cent) of men and one-third (34 per cent) of women aged 21 to 30 said that the cultural impact of their workplaces is more negative than positive.
“The [encouraging story from overall findings] story changed when we delved into the findings based on the respondents’ age, gender and other demographic factors. This tells me the legal sector, as a whole, still has work to do to improve the situation,” Ms McLeay surmised.
Elsewhere, the survey identified that the factors that have the most positive impact on wellbeing are supportive colleagues, flexible work arrangements, reasonable work/life balance, supportive management and a culture that does not tolerate bullying or discrimination.
On the flip side, the top factors negatively impacting wellbeing were unreasonable workloads, poor work/life balance, long work hours, hypercritical culture and lack of collegiality.
For younger practitioners, lack of training and development was the most influential factor in determining whether one deemed their workplace culture to be positive or negative.
The findings show that there are different workplace cultural challenges for lawyers, based on gender and age, Ms McLeay deduced.
“Improving workplace culture is everyone’s responsibility – including the regulator,” she proclaimed.
“The diversity, sustainability and safety of our profession depends on our ability to address these issues for everyone. We need to continue to change attitudes to how we think about and respond to these challenges.”
“We also need to look at diverse solutions to these complex problems, and how these can be tailored to the experience of each group. And finally, we need to invest in training and developing our people,” Ms McLeay concluded.