In a significant stride towards gender equality, Australian law firms Hicksons and Lander&Rogers have achieved gender parity within their partnership ranks. This milestone, revealed by The Australian Financial Review Law Partnership Survey, demonstrates a broader upward trend in gender representation within the legal industry.
Onwards and Upwards: The Progress in Numbers
As per the survey, women currently constitute 35% of all partners, a substantial rise from 32% earlier this year and markedly higher than the 25% recorded five years ago. It is noteworthy that almost half of the new partner appointments were women, and since 2016, women have constituted a minimum of 60% of the senior associate cohort.
Flexible Work Policies: A Game Changer
The leaders of the firms attribute their success in achieving gender balance to flexible work arrangements. Lander&Rogers has adopted a fully flexible and hybrid work model without a stipulated number of office days. Simultaneously, Hicksons accommodates part-time and fully remote partners without mandating a minimum office presence.
Yet, A Long Road Ahead
Despite these advancements, gender parity remains elusive in some sectors. Women comprise less than 30% of partners at a third of the surveyed firms, with certain prominent firms registering less than 25% female partners. However, firms such as Ashurst and Gilbert + Tobin have made commendable progress, with 43% and 40% female partners respectively.
The leaders assert that accomplishing gender equality is not merely about policies; it necessitates a paradigm shift in organizational culture, leadership, and operating models. The focus should be on creating an environment that nurtures diverse talent, elevates women into leadership roles, and celebrates their achievements.