There’s still a huge gender gap in NZ’s equity partner ranks – study

by Sol Dolor26 May 2017
There’s still a wide gender disparity at the most senior ranks of law firms in New Zealand.

At the equity partner level, 81% are male while only 19% are female, according to a study conducted by the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) and McLeod Duminy.

“There are considerably more women than men working in private practice – yet, women make up less than a fifth of equity partners and only 43% of salaried partners,” said Kirsty Spears, McLeod Duminy legal recruitment consultant. “It seems that despite women making up 63% of lawyers and solicitors, and 64% of senior management, the top position of partner is still dominated by males.”

All but one of the respondents did not think there was a gender-based pay gap at their firm. Meanwhile, 24% believed that there was a gender pay gap in the wider industry, down from 33% last year.

The survey, which was conducted in 94 firms employing 2,259 staff across New Zealand, found that most (60%) of staff expect salary increases above the Consumer Price Index (CPI), while many (20%) expect the increase to be in line with CPI. Fifteen per cent said they plan a limited or total age freeze.

As with the survey’s results for Australia, select staffs’ increases will be supplemented by significant bonuses, which are usually based on individual financial performance, said ALPMA NZ president and general manager Lowndes Jordan. The survey found that most law firms (84%, up 8% from the previous year) offer bonuses. However, only 2% of firms give bonuses to all roles. Most firms give bonuses only to lawyers and executive staff, ALPMA said.

Flexible work arrangements are increasingly a part of the legal industry in the country, with 81% of law firms having programs for flexible working available for staff, up from 68% last year.

The survey found that 57% of law firms expect to hire new staff, mostly to grow the firm and not because of staff departures. The NZ legal profession is also mobile, with an average staff turnover rate of 18%.

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