Legal profession urged to ponder gender diversity on Women’s Suffrage Day

by Sol Dolor20 Sep 2017
Celebrating the anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in New Zealand is the perfect opportunity for the legal profession to look at the state of gender diversity in its ranks, the New Zealand Law Society said.

19 September was Women’s Suffrage day, marking 124 years since the country’s Electoral Law gave women the same right as men to vote. The enactment of the law in 1893 made New Zealand the first country in the world to give women the vote.

“As a nation we are proud of our status as the first country to give women the vote, but the legal profession needs to work together to continue to advance and retain our women lawyers. The draft Gender Diversity and Inclusion Charter currently out for consultation is a further step in the right direction,” said Kathryn Beck, Law Society president.

The Law Society released its draft “Gender Diversity and Inclusion Charter” to solicit comments from lawyers.  An initiative of the organisation’s Women’s Advisory Panel, it aims to address key issues such as the retention and advancement of women and the gender pay gap in the profession.

Women already account for close to 70% of law graduates and almost 50% of practising certificate-holders, yet women account for less than 39% of partners or directors in law firms.

“[Women in the legal profession] deserve acknowledgement and the opportunity to be able to make the most of their talents,” Beck said. “I've been fortunate enough to achieve some of my goals. I've had good work and opportunities in my career. I’m a partner in a law firm and I have the privilege of being the President of the NZLS. I want to see other women who are practising law achieve their goals. It can be done and our Gender Diversity and Inclusion Charter can help foster positive change in the legal profession.” 

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