SPARKE HELMORE was recognised for paying more than lip service to the ideals of equal opportunity when it won the large firm category at the EEO Awards last week.
According to the organisers, the Law Society of NSW, the EEO Awards recognise firms’ use of effective strategies to improve equal opportunities.
Part-time work, working from home, flexible hours, salary review systems, workplace modifications and training and mentoring are some of the strategies being used by firms to improve opportunities for workers, the Law Society said.
‘Starters’ winner Watkins Tapsell has six partners, three of whom are men and three women. One of these women is also managing partner, said Law Society president Gordon Salier.
“As well as actively supporting a work-life balance through flexible work options, the firm has a study support scheme and a mentoring program for female lawyers to put them on the pathway to partnership,” Salier said.
Sparke Helmore, winner of the large firm category, said a 97 per cent return rate of women from maternity leave is evidence of the firm’s ability to accommodate flexible work practices.
In the firm, 50 per cent of those promoted from solicitor to senior associate, and from senior associate to partner, were female.
“Sparke Helmore has addressed the pay equity issue through a salary review system which links salary to performance, removing the vagaries of individual staff negotiation skills or personality biases from pay increases,” Salier said.