The New Zealand Law Society
is calling on lawyers to provide feedback on the draft of a charter that aims to support the retention and advancement of women in law.
“Gender diversity is critical to the success and sustainability of the legal profession. I hope the charter will help accelerate the progress of women to leadership positions in law,” said Chris Moore, chair of the society’s Women’s Advisory Panel.
Although signing the “Gender Diversity and Inclusion Charter” is voluntary, law firms who accede to the document will have to commit to promoting gender equality in the workplace.
Among other things, signatories are expected to:
- develop recruitment, retention, and promotion policies that include diversity and inclusion
- conduct annual gender pay audits to identify and eliminate gender pay disparities
- actively work to increase the percentage of women in senior legal roles
“We need to see greater progress in terms of the advancement of women to the higher ranks of the legal profession. The charter is about the profession committing to concerted action to address this visible and longstanding problem,” says New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck.
According to figures from the law society, women have made up close to 70% of law graduates from universities, and almost 50% of those holding practising certificates in recent years. Yet women make up less than 30% of those who are partners or directors in law firms.
“The culture across the legal profession needs to move forward if we are to retain our many women practitioners. We believe these are the right areas to target in addressing this vital issue,” Beck said.
Lawyers have until 6 October to comment on the draft of the charter.