Corrs Chambers Westgarth has become the first large Australian law firm to commit to publishing an annual ASX guideline-compliant diversity policy.
The firm is also introducing a sponsorship program for women in the partnership pipeline where a partner will be assigned to actively support each candidate's business case and introduce them to networks and clients.
These initiatives are part of Corrs' refreshed diversity strategy, launched this week by federal sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.
Broderick identified the amendments to the ASX guidelines as the most significant step taken in the last five years towards encouraging diversity and gender equality in the leadership levels of Australian business.
Corrs has also announced the firm is increasing its target proportion of women to at least 35 per cent of the partnership and 40 per cent of senior management roles by 2015.
Broderick encouraged other firms to adopt innovative strategies to drive real change in gender diversity.
"It is not just about setting the target, it's about measuring the outcome. It's about holding people accountable for the delivery of those outcomes. This will be an important part of the strategy and it is commendable to see Corrs take that step out front," she said.
"I would encourage all professional services firms to consider whether a similar approach might work in their organisation."
Corrs partner and chair of the diversity council Christine Covington said that gender diversity is the firm's most pressing challenge. "Our refreshed diversity strategy is designed to retain our female talent and remove barriers to their progression to partnership," she said.
Corrs will also be appointing a new diversity manager and has partnered with Melbourne Business School in a three-year study on gender equality to identify and remove barriers to gender equity. More than 200 Corrs lawyers and business support team members will be involved in the program.
"Championing diversity is more than words on a poster. It is developing goals, planning to achieve them and measuring our performance. It is supporting our talented people and creating a work culture that celebrates our differences," said Covington.