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Firms shine in EOWA awards

FIVE AUSTRALIAN law firms have been recognised by the federal government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) as leaders in implementing policies and practices that…

FIVE AUSTRALIAN law firms have been recognised by the federal government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) as leaders in implementing policies and practices that support women across the organisation.

Allens Arthur Robinson, Blake Dawson Waldron, Henry Davis York, Maddocks, and Sparke Helmore were among 116 organisations to be handed an EOWA accolade, said to be organisations that typically boast women in higher numbers at senior levels, succession plans for women in management, development plans for high achievers, paid maternity leave and high maternity leave retention rates, well as the ability to work part time at all levels.

This is the second consecutive year that Maddocks has won the award. The firm said it has been recognised for creating work cultures that support and advance both women and men at the firm. These have been designed to develop women working at the firm and allow them to reach their full potential professionally. One such policy allows people returning from parental leave to work under flexible work-from-home arrangements for a mutually agreed period.

In terms of numbers, the firm is well represented by women. Of a total 39 partners, nine are women. The firm said that this reflects a proportion well above the legal industry average.

Human resources director Liz Ryan said the firm’s policies and procedures are “good for everybody”, regardless of gender. “Our philosophy is one which respects that people have varied responsibilities and interests outside of work and acknowledges that well-rounded employees bring a more diverse range of skills to their professional roles,” she said.

Top-tier firm Allens Arthur Robinson was also awarded the accolade in 2005, this year citing its [email protected] initiative as leading in part to its success. “The requirements for the awarding of the EOWA [citation] are demanding, but there is no doubt that meeting them benefits out staff, the firm and our clients,” said managing partner and [email protected] committee member Tom Poulton.

The Allens’ initiative includes a network designed to improve communication and career development opportunities for our women in each of the firm’s Australian offices. The mentoring program matched each of the female participants to an internal partner and a person outside the firm who is a leader in their field.

“We will continue to pursue policies and practices that allow women and men the same opportunity to shine in the work environment,” Poulton said.

Henry Davis York director of human resources, Deborah Stonley, said the firm is committed to ensuring its work environment is attractive to both male and female employees.

Managing partner Stephen Purcell said equal opportunity is important in the business, and influences the way it is conducted. “Focusing on flexible work practices, we provide ongoing support for both males and females,” he said.

See Women in Law this week, p22

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