More than 220 women lawyers gathered at the second annual Women in Law Summit in Auckland Tuesday to discuss the most critical issues facing women in the legal profession.
Throughout the day, attendees discussed a range of issues including unconscious bias, the role of men and the proactive approaches that top-tier firms have been taking to address recent claims of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Fashion entrepreneur Karen Walker CNZM opened the conference by sharing insight into her challenges and successes in building an international fashion empire, drawing parallels with the experiences of women lawyers.
The event was attended by Auckland’s leading lawyers, who took the opportunity to pledge their commitment to championing diversity.
“Until the most senior people in the firm take this seriously, others will not,” one partner said.
“A policy will only ever be a piece of paper until leaders take it seriously,” said another partner.
Unconscious bias was raised as a persistent issue, with unconscious bias training being recommended as a strategy for promoting diversity.
“We are tuned to pick people who look like us,” one participant said.
Speakers and delegates discussed the complex challenges and issues relating to flexible working in the legal profession.
Flexible working was discussed as a critical policy for women to succeed, while also being important for men. One partner discussed the importance of men taking the afternoon off to watch their children’s sports matches.
“When leaders do this, everyone else is encouraged and this in turn improves loyalty,” the delegate said.
The event was described by participants as an empowering and powerful day, bringing women lawyers and male champions of change together.
The Women in Law Summit was organised by NZ Lawyer.