Lawyer turns film star for gender equality

By Reporter|06 May 2015
Michael Chaaya

A Corrs Chambers Westgarth lawyer will take a starring role in an online documentary series daring men to defy workplace norms.

The Equilibrium Man Challenge will follow six men from Corrs, Telstra, Mirvac and Cisco as they try to embrace flexible work practices over the coming six months, juggling client meetings with parent-teacher interviews.

The campaign aims to normalise flexible work practices for both genders and challenge the assumption that women should be children's primary caregivers - which Folklaw suggests should have been discarded a long time ago with typewriters and mid-morning martinis.

Corrs partner Michael Chaaya (pictured), who is married to federal MP Michelle Rowland, will take part in the series as he tries to adopt a more progressive approach to work.

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Apart from challenging outdated ideas, Mr Chaaya also has a geographical challenge to overcome, as he and his wife split their young daughter’s care between Sydney and Canberra.

The project has been endorsed by an extensive list of organisations, including the six participating companies, the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency and the Diversity Council.

WGEA acting director Louise McSorley said the project aimed to change the concept that childcare was a “women’s problem.”

“The male breadwinner model is a thing of the past, and flexibility is equally relevant to men and women,” she said. 

Research bears out the (apparently revolutionary) idea that men might want to be involved in raising their own children, with the Diversity Council Australia reporting one in five men had considered leaving their organisation due to a lack of flexibility.

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Nonetheless, many employers appear surprised at the notion, with just 9.8 per cent of men’s requests for flexible arrangements accepted compared to 17.8 per cent of women’s, the report found.

Episodes of the Equilibrium Challenge will be posted online over the coming months.

Lawyer turns film star for gender equality
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