Corrs Chambers Westgarth has become the first large Australian law firm to publicly commit to publishing an annual ASX Guideline compliant Diversity Policy.

Corrs is also introducing a Sponsorship Program for women in the partnership pipeline where a partner will be assigned to actively support each candidate’s business case and introduce them to networks and clients.

These initiatives are part of Corrs’ refreshed Diversity Strategy, launched this week by Elizabeth Broderick, the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

The Commissioner identified the amendments to the ASX guidelines as the most significant step taken in the last five years towards encouraging diversity and gender equality in the leadership levels of Australian business. Corrs commitment to publish an ASX Guideline compliant diversity policy is just one of a series of initiatives the firm is putting in place to establish a diversity policy with measurable outcomes.

As part of these initiatives, Corrs has also announced the firm is increasing its target proportion of women to at least 35% in the partnership and 40% in senior management roles by 2015.

Ms Broderick encouraged other firms also to adopt innovative strategies to drive real change in gender diversity.

“It is not just about setting the target, it’s about measuring the outcome, it’s about holding people accountable for the delivery of those outcomes. This will be an important part of the strategy and it is commendable to see Corrs take that step out front.

“I would encourage all professional services firms to consider whether a similar approach might work in their organisations.”

Corrs Partner and Chair of the Diversity Council, Christine Covington said, “We are raising the bar on our diversity goals under our 2015 strategy. Our most pressing challenge is gender diversity. Our refreshed Diversity Strategy is designed to retain our female talent and remove barriers to their progression to partnership.”

Corrs will also be appointing a new Diversity Manager and is the only law firm to have partnered with Melbourne Business School in a three year study on gender equality to identify and remove barriers to gender equity. More than 200 Corrs lawyers and business support team members will be involved in the program.

“Championing diversity is more than words on a poster. It is developing goals, planning to achieve them and measuring our performance. It is supporting our talented people and creating a work culture that celebrates our differences. At Corrs we are dedicating resources to reach these ends. And we are well on the way to achieving our goals,” Christine concluded.

Corrs began tackling gender diversity in 2006, establishing the Diversity Council and developing the firm’s first diversity strategy and action plan. Significant progress has been made since then with increased representation of women in senior positions. Today 38% of the Board including the chair and 35% of partners and senior managers at Corrs are women.

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