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Firms must work harder for gender equality

Firms must work harder for gender equality

More law firms should be striving to be named as employers of choice for women and there is still work to be done to achieve gender equality in the legal profession, the Women Lawyers'…

More law firms should be striving to be named as employers of choice for women and there is still work to be done to achieve gender equality in the legal profession, the Women Lawyers' Association (WLA) of NSW has said.

The comments came in the wake of the WLA's praise of the 98 organisations which were this week recognised by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) as being an Employer of Choice for Women.

However, WLA NSW said it is still confident the list could include more law firms and that there is still "room to improve" in regards to gender equality in the legal profession.

WLA NSW president Rebecca Barry is particularly concerned that over 60 per cent of law students are women, yet the percentage of women who are appointed as partners, senior counsel and directors on boards is much lower.

"What happens to these women? Where do they go?" asked Barry.

"It is certainly not the senior echelons of the legal profession, the bar and boards. There is just not enough support. I am not referring to mere encouragement. I am talking about the practicalities around maternity leave, equal pay and support structures such as widespread mentoring."

WLA NSW congratulated the law firms named as 2011 Employers of Choice, which include Allens Arthur Robinson, Baker & McKenzie, Blake Dawson, Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Deloitte, Freehills, Gilbert & Tobin, Henry Davis York, Holding Redlich, Maddocks, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, McCullough Robertson, Minter Ellison and Norton Rose.

In order to receive the citation, organisations were required to fulfill strict criteria including the provision of a minimum of 12 months' paid maternity leave after one year's employment, regular gender-based pay analysis and regular sexual harassment training.

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