06 Jun 2018
August 2, 2018, 12:27 pm

The target date for 35 per cent female representation at partner level has been brought forward by a national law firm by three years.

Clayton Utz has announced that 2022 will be the new target for achieving 35 per cent representation of women in its partnership. The revised target shaves three years off its original aim, which had been set at 2025.

Rob Cutler, Clayton Utz chief executive partner, said that he was proud of the firm’s progress towards being a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

“The senior leadership team has made diversity and inclusion a key strategic priority for the firm,” Mr Cutler said.

“We know we have a way to go to address the historical gender imbalance in our partnership, but we're making progress and we'll continue to do so.”

Over the past four years Clayton Utz increased its female partner numbers from 18 per cent to 27 per cent. That is a growth of 9 per cent more female partners since 2014.

Mr Cutler said that the move demonstrated the firm's efforts to change the way it identified, developed and sponsored future partnership talent.

“When we set the target of 35 per cent of women in our partnership by 2025, female partners made up 18 per cent of our total partner numbers, and our female partner attrition rate was running at double our male partner attrition rate,” Mr Cutler said.

“We knew this was unsustainable and we needed to identify why this was the case, and what we needed to do to address this.”

According to partner Kate Jordan (pictured), who is a people and development executive at the firm, several changes had been made to support the path to partnership for women at Clayton Utz.

“These changes included a more transparent process for identifying future partnership talent; new programs for talent development and greater support for partners in the earlier stages of their careers; formal mentoring, sponsorship and coaching programs; and encouraging and supporting greater uptake of flexible work practices for all our partners and employees,” Ms Jordan said.

She also suggested that the change had a broad positive impact at the firm, with female partner attrition rate dropping significantly.

“The promotion of women to partnership has, in recent years, been more closely aligned with the percentage of women at the senior lawyer ranks,” Ms Jordan said.

Clayton Utz’s efforts to foster diversity have also extended beyond equal gender representation. Last Month the firm obtained gold employer status in the 2018 Australian Workplace Equality Index for its initiatives to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Clayton Utz was the only law firm to be recognised as a gold employer in the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) this year.

The index recognises those organisations that have made “the biggest impact in building more inclusive workplaces” as measured against the Pride in Diversity's standards.

A statement from the firm said its LGBTI inclusion initiatives included awareness training, best practice policies to support employees who identified as LGBTI, and community advocacy, including supporting marriage equality.

Clayton Utz said that it also provided pro bono legal support to LGBTI individuals and charities.

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