Clayton Utz gets EOWA citation despite Styles
Clayton Utz has rejoined the list of law firms rated as employers of choice for women following the much-publicised sexual harassment claim made against the firm by Bridgette Styles, which settled last year.
iv>After an absence from the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) Employer of Choice for Women list in 2010 and 2011, Clayton Utz joins 15 other law firms which have been named as employers of choice for women in 2012. Other large firms on the list include Allens Arthur Robinson, Ashurst Australia, Baker & McKenzie, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons, Minter Ellison and Norton Rose.
“Clayton Utz is committed to fostering an environment in which our women can succeed and reach their full potential,” said Clayton Utz chief executive partner Darryl McDonough said in a statement.
“Creating market-leading career paths for our women is clearly articulated as a fundamental plank of our firm strategy, with an unswerving commitment to increase the number of women in senior roles, and the number who return to work at the firm following parental leave.”
According to McDonough, as part of its commitment to being a firm of choice for women lawyers, last year the firm introduced an enhanced paid parental benefit scheme of up to 36 weeks’ leave and continued to explore flexible work options.
“Currently, 16 per cent of Clayton Utz employees are employed part-time and an additional 101 employees work under other flexible work arrangements, such as our formal work-from-home scheme, variable start and finish times and job-share arrangements,” he said.
Darryl McDonough was unavailable when contacted by Lawyers Weekly for a formal interview.
In November last year Clayton Utz settled the sexual harassment claim made against the firm by Styles, who was employed as a graduate solicitor with the firm between August 2007 and December 2008.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly in January after taking on the role of partner-in-charge of the firm’s Sydney office, Kate Jordan rejected claims that the firm has a problem with its treatment of women and said she had not encountered any personal instances of harassment or discrimination during her 15 years at the firm.
While not commenting specifically on the Styles matter, Jordan said media coverage of the court case was “not a reflection of the Clayton Utz that I know”.
“My experience is that it’s a very supportive environment – and my experience is very supportive of that,” she said.
The EOWA citation is awarded to non-government organisations with more than 100 employees that have demonstrated they have policies and practices supporting women across the organisation, achieving positive outcomes for both women and the business. Other Australian law firms to make the list this year were Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers, Gilbert + Tobin, Henry Davis York, Holding Redlich, Maddocks, McCullough Roberston and Middletons.
Minter Ellison made the list this year with 62 per cent of its workforce comprised by women, while Henry Davis York – the only firm amongst the top 30 Australian firms with a female managing partner – was listed as a preferred employer for women for the second year in a row, having doubled the number of female partners in the last five years. Both Corrs and Freehills made the list for the sixth consecutive year, while Allens was awarded the citation for the eight year in a row.