The legal sector has long been known as one that has a leaky pipeline when it comes to getting women into partner and leadership positions.
So it’s great to see a couple of announcements from one major law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, regarding policies that aim to better support employees, and promote workplace gender equality.
First up, the firm announced on Friday that it will pay superannuation contributions to employees during both paid and unpaid parental leave.
It joins a small but growing group of employers in Australia to make such an announcement, including Fairfax, HSBC and Viva Energy Australia.
These are important steps forward in bridging the superannuation gap, given women retire with around 40% less superannuation than men, and motherhood comes with a financial penalty that will cost women for the rest of their lives.
Also it’s great to see such announcements occurring across a wide spread of industry sectors, given we know that that competition for talent can mean that employers often follow the leader when it comes to upping their game on family-friendly policies.
Corrs Chambers Westgarth said the new policy, which commences as of 1 July 2018, will mean it will pay superannuation for a period of up to 12 months to employees taking either paid or unpaid leave, and pay it regardless of whether you’re a primary or secondary carer. The firm currently offers 18 weeks paid parental leave to primary carers and three weeks to secondary carers.
The announcement came from the firm’s new CEO Gavin MacLaren, who started in the role in July.
Ending daily billable hours targets
MacLaren went on to share with the Australian Financial Review that the firm would be eliminating daily billable hours targets and offering staff an additional week’s annual leave. He said it’s about avoiding “creating an environment where perseverance is the number-one skill set in your staff.”
He also added that daily targets can be unrealistic given workloads are changing constantly and staff need to be able to set their patterns in order to have balanced lives. Instead, the firm will offer annual billable targets, and that they are happy to be the market “guinea pig” on testing how it works.
MacLaren said in a press release he is committed to achieving gender equality in the workplace and will continue to ensure it’s seen as a priority in the firm.
“Ultimately, a supportive and inclusive culture generates a diverse, engaged and high performing workforce,” he said.