find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Majority against diversity quotas

Majority against diversity quotas

More than half of respondents to a Lawyers Weekly poll are against introducing partner quotas to encourage diversity and believe promotion should be strictly based on merit.

More than half of respondents to a Lawyers Weekly poll are against introducing partner quotas to encourage diversity and believe promotion should be strictly based on merit.

Another 23 per cent voted against quotas but indicated they would support aspirational diversity targets, while just 21 per cent were in favour of quotas.

Tony Holland (pictured), managing partner of DLA Piper, told Lawyers Weekly the figures support his view that firms are firmly focused on promoting on the basis of merit.

“Many think quotas don’t drive the underlying aim of ensuring you have the best people in the appropriate positions,” he said.

Holland, whose firm recently released its 2014 Diversity Strategy, does not support enforceable quotas. He does, however, believe firms must practice what they preach in their diversity policies by creating solid professional development opportunities for women.

“It all comes down to execution [of diversity policies],” he said. “You have to actually do what you say, not just say it as a token.”

While Holland doesn’t think diversity is the enemy of meritocracy, he did claim that quotas mean a firm can’t guarantee it is rewarding effort, which is a key characteristic of a true meritocracy.

Kate Ashmor, president of Australian Women Lawyers, claimed a quota system fundamentally opposes the spirit of meritocracy.

Even so, she said firms must do more to ensure a diverse range of candidates are being promoted. “It’s not enough anymore for firms to say we employ on merit because [this strategy] is not working,” she added.

Thinking outside the box

A possible solution, she claimed, is to broaden the criteria for promotion to include part-time employees. Ashmor also suggested that skill-sets deemed necessary for partnership be expanded. For example, retail or small business experience could be seen as contributing financial management skills to the role, she said.

“It’s about thinking a little bit laterally in the criteria ... just because [a lawyer] might not do incredibly long hours doesn’t mean they’re not ambitious or [are] less committed to their job ... they bring skills and experience beyond the traditional set,” she reiterated.

When asked about draft legislation that sets gender quotas for top jobs, which is currently being considered by the European Union (EU), Ashmor said she was “troubled” by the move. The legislation drawn up by EU officials includes a rule that requires listed businesses to reserve a minimum of 40 per cent of their non-executive board roles for females by 2020.

“Hitting companies over the head with a stick is not really the spirit in which these matters should be addressed,” she said, adding that a positive and collaborative approach would be more effective.

She also applauded the legal profession for openly acknowledging the value of diversity strategies to their bottom line. “Finally we’re getting some oxygen on the issue because it’s now become a mainstream productivity issue, not solely a discrimination or equality issue, which isn’t as sexy,” she said. “Diversity is simply good for business.”

Just less than 350 readers participated in the online poll, the highest number of respondents to any Lawyers Weekly website survey.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Majority against diversity quotas
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...