TurksLegal continues journey towards industry balance
Promoted by TurksLegal
TurksLegal has been on a very distinct pathway to embrace diversity and inclusion at all levels of its 200 strong East Coast Practice.
In 2019, the firm appointed its first non-lawyer Chief Executive Officer, Kiri Brain who has since been nominated for Executive of the Year in the forthcoming Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards. Since joining TurksLegal, Kiri has continued to build on the efforts of her predecessors to lead TurksLegal to be a balanced and diverse organisation.
A good example of TurksLegal’s commitment to this over the last 12 months is evident in its growing Employers Liability team.
In an industry where law firms are traditionally dominated by male leadership, in TurksLegal’s contingent of over 30 workers compensation lawyers, more than half of leadership roles are held by female lawyers with an overall balance of 55%:45% Females to Males.
The team is headed by Partner, Adele Fletcher, who balances her career as a leading workers insurance lawyer with the responsibilities of being a mother to two pre-school children.
Over the last 12 months alone the team has grown by 20% with 67% of these new team members female and two-thirds of our new recruits hired on flexible work arrangements. And the new year will see an ever expanding team of talented female lawyers taking senior leadership roles.
Three experienced lawyers will join the Employers Liability team in early 2021, two of whom have been hired while on parental leave.
Just some of the initiatives we focus on to encourage gender balance include:
- Our popular firm wide Flexible Working policy that allows flexibility for employees to work part time, have late start time/early finish and work from home. Our Managers, Partners & CEO are visible role models for this policy–working part-time hours and ‘leaving loudly’. Pre-COVID we invested significantly in building the technology and infrastructure required to support the 25% of our staff who worked flexibly at that time.
- A range of options to assist those returning from parental leave to transition successfully, such as paid cleaning, paid meal services or one-on-one external career coaching.
- Our domestic violence leave policy providing paid leave of 5 days for anyone in need. We also host a number of mental health and resilience webinars, all of which are available to our staff members.
- Should an individual wish to take a career break, we offer unpaid leave for up to two years, guaranteeing that they will not sacrifice their career in the process. Alternatively, if an individual just needs additional annual leave to their current entitlement they can purchase this.
- We are WGEA compliant and signatories to the Law Society Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession, the Law Society of Australia’s Diversity and Equality Charter and sponsor the Western Sydney University’s Women in Leadership events.
- We are active corporate members of Women Lawyers Association, Women’s Insolvency Network Australia, Women in Insurance (NSW, QLD, VIC) and Women in Banking and Finance (WiBF). We coordinate and fund the WiBF TurksLegal Leadership Scholarship now in its 6th year.
Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee also host ‘Inclusion Matters’ seminars, which are aimed at enhancing the dialogue around diversity and inclusion. In 2019, we were honoured to have The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG share his personal and professional experiences on how to influence cultural change to promote acceptance, diversity and inclusion. The most recent sessions in 2020 were presented by barrister Kate Eastman SC on how the legal profession can do better in diversity and inclusion and the Honourable Julie Bishop on embracing diversity and inclusion in challenging times. A clear message from each of these sessions has been that the commitment of the leadership group is critical to achieving diversity and inclusion goals. This is a message that the leadership group at TurksLegal continues to embrace.