The Workplace Gender Equality Agency recently announced the inaugural list of Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation holders for organisations who have raised the bar in their efforts to improve gender equality.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth was named as one of only 76 Australian organisations to receive this prestigious EOCGE citation.

The new citation replaces the Federal Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace ‘Employer of Choice for Women’ (EOWA) award, which Corrs has been awarded for each of the last seven years.

As noted by WGEA Director, Helen Conway, the EOCGE citation recognises organisations that have demonstrated an active commitment to gender equality in their workplace. She elaborated that, “holders of the 2014 WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation should be celebrated and championed as leading practice role models and innovative thinkers on issues of workplace gender equality.”

Corrs partner and CEO John W.H. Denton remarked that being recognised by the WGEA as an employer of choice for gender equality is a welcome endorsement for the firm’s ongoing gender diversity commitment, policies and initiatives.

There is a growing recognition of the need to integrate men into diversity initiatives, especially as workplaces change to meet organisational needs for flexible work practices across the board. Success of flexible work practices for all will depend on workplaces embracing this reality and promoting acceptance that both men and women will increasingly working flexibly, in day to day practice, as well as at particular stages of life (including when parenting or carer demands arise, or when approaching retirement, or for other reasons). Corrs recently launched a Mainstreaming Flexibility@Corrs program, to improve access to and support for flexible working across the firm as standard business practice.

Mr Denton noted, “I am committed to creating an inspiring workplace for our outstanding people with a supportive culture that enables everyone to thrive. Flexible working is a current business reality and an important part of what we do at Corrs. It is well known that the successful implementation of flexible work practices have been challenging for the legal profession. This citation is testament that we are on the right track.”

Corrs Diversity Council co-chairs, partners Annette Hughes and Sandy Mak, are champions of the Mainstreaming Flexibility@Corrs project. They endorse Mr Denton’s views and state that it is only through the work of many hands that Corrs is tackling the flexibility challenge head on – we are on a journey to strengthen the commitment to and understanding of this important project with practical implementation and ongoing discussion across the firm. Corrs’ goal is that flexibility is ‘business as usual’ for all of us, regardless of gender, age, or career stage.

Both Annette and Sandy are leaders in diversity. Their commitment to creating a partnership that values collaboration, diversity and mentoring was recognised at the Lawyers Weekly Law Awards with both receiving the “Female Partner of the Year Award” (Sandy in 2013 and Annette in 2014).

Corrs’ key initiatives to improve gender equality include:

  • An ASX-compliant diversity policy and gender targets, underpinned by a gender equality strategy
  • A dedicated Diversity Manager to drive and implement initiatives
  • Mainstreaming Flexibility@Corrs program, which promotes flexible working options to both men and women
  • An industry leading 18 weeks paid parental leave for employees who are the primary care giver and 3 weeks paid parental leave for secondary care-givers
  • Continuous improvement focus on parental leave practices and processes to enhance the support and experience for individuals going on and returning from parental leave
  • Key industry partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Ethical Leadership on the Gender Equality Project– a research, training and intervention program to identify and remove barriers to gender equality
  • Unconscious bias awareness training for leadership, partners, senior business services staff, and senior lawyers
  • Executive coaching for senior female lawyers and for female partners to assist women to maximise their career potential
  • Mentoring and networking programs and opportunities (both formal and informal) for staff and partners
  • A commitment to identifying and addressing gender pay equity

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