First launched back in 2016, the Law Society of NSW’s Charter for the Advancement of Women focuses on the recruitment, retention and development of women in the legal profession.
In 2021, the Charter was relaunched, and, in addition to its original principles, also focuses on the promotion of women from all backgrounds to leadership positions, and adds a new provision to prompt signatories to establish procedurally fair and transparent sexual discrimination and harassment complaints processes. The new provisions encourage signatories to establish training programs that empower bystanders and others to report and ‘call out’ offensive and intimidating behaviour and ensure that sexual harassment, or any form of bullying in the workplace, is not tolerated.
The Law Society of New South Wales promotes diversity, equality and inclusion in the solicitor profession, in particular by developing and progressing initiatives to ensure equality of opportunity for all members of the solicitor profession, regardless of race, ethnicity, heritage, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
Women make up more than 50 per cent of the solicitor profession and have made significant advances in all areas of practice. However, impediments still remain to the retention and career progression of women in the profession.
The Law Society's Charter for the Advancement of Women is designed to promote and support strategies to retain women from all backgrounds, including women with disability, in the profession over the course of their careers, and encourage and promote their career progression into leadership, senior executive and management positions.
The Charter aims to achieve this by assisting the solicitor profession to develop cultures which promote diversity and inclusion, prevent sexual harassment and bullying, and impact positively on all practitioners in their place of work, resulting in better business outcomes for the solicitor profession and the community as a whole.
In support of this initiative, the signatories to this Charter commit to:
- demonstrating leadership by removing gender bias and discrimination in the legal workplace;
- driving change in the solicitor profession by developing a culture that supports the retention and promotion of women from all backgrounds;
- implementing recruitment and promotion strategies that include gender diversity and gender pay equity as important considerations;
- promoting mentoring and sponsorship of women in the solicitor profession;
- encouraging and facilitating flexible work practices to support a better balance of professional and other commitments;
- ensuring that sexual harassment, or any form of bullying in the workplace, is not tolerated;
- establishing procedurally fair, safe, accessible and transparent sexual discrimination and harassment complaints processes; and
- establishing training to protect complainants from victimisation, encouraging bystanders and others to report and 'call out' offensive and intimidating behaviour.