Australia: Corrs gender equality initiatives again recognised with WGEA Employer of Choice citation
Last Updated: 6 November 2015

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency announced today that Corrs Chambers Westgarth is one of 90 Australian organisations to make the prestigious list of Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation holders.

This is the second year in a row Corrs has been awarded the WGEA EOCGE citation and the ninth consecutive year including the previous EOWA citation.

WGEA Director Libby Lyons said the initiatives demonstrated by this year's EOCGE recipients showed that more employers were taking a sophisticated and whole-of-organisation approach to supporting women and men's equal participation at all levels of the workplace. She congratulated all of the 2015 citation holders for their initiative and commitment and driving positive change as they set the gold standard for inclusive workplaces.

Corrs partner and CEO John W.H. Denton AO said the WGEA EOCGE citation is testament to the continued work and outcomes aimed at achieving gender equality at Corrs.

Mr Denton noted, "My commitment to achieving gender equality at Corrs remains strong. I am proud of the progress Corrs is making and will continue to make."

"In particular, we remain dedicated to making flexible work an option for all our staff and partners at various stages of their lives and careers, regardless of gender or age and without adverse impact on ultimate career goals. In order to achieve true gender equality, we need to make it equally acceptable for anyone, regardless of gender, to work flexibly."

This year the firm has continued to focus on flexible working through the Mainstreaming Flexibility@Corrs Program. Corrs is proud to be a part of the Equilibrium Man Challenge, which centrepieces a series of short documentaries about men, including Corrs partner Michael Chaaya, who are seeking to work flexibly for a variety of reasons.   A key objective of the Challenge is to debunk the myth that flexibility is a women's issue.

Corrs Diversity Council co-chairs, partners Annette Hughes and Sandy Mak were also delighted that Corrs has been awarded the citation again this year.

Annette said, "The legal industry has been working hard to improve gender equality, and I am pleased to see improvements in this space. However, there is still work to be done, particularly in the area of flexibility, which is a current business reality and an important part of what we do at Corrs."

Corrs' goal is for flexibility to be 'business as usual' for all of us, regardless of gender, age, or career stage.

Sandy added, "The projects underway to assure gender equality in the legal industry have traditionally focussed on initiatives directed at largely at women. While this remains very important, flexibility and inclusion should be accessible to anyone - regardless of gender who wish to work flexibly, to seek flexible working arrangements or to take on caring responsibilities."

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

The firm's strong commitment to gender equality is well known. Corrs has implemented market leading policies, initiatives and programs, some of which include:

  • An ASX-compliant diversity policy and gender targets, underpinned by a gender equality strategy.
  • Mainstreaming Flexibility@Corrs program, which promotes flexible working options to all staff and partners. Includes participation in WGEA's Equilibrium Man Challenge to ensure flexible work becomes standard business practice and embedded into our workplace culture.
  • 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. Incorporates rolling out programs to assist individuals with managing work and family demands and a number of individuals have participated to date.
  • Key industry partnership with the University of Melbourne's Centre for Ethical Leadership on a multi-year Diversity and Inclusion Project - encompasses research and training to remove barriers to gender equality and flexibility, and increase inclusion.
  • Continued unconscious bias awareness training for leadership, partners, senior business services staff, and senior lawyers.
  • Executive coaching for senior female lawyers and 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. Regularly undertaking a gender pay gap analysis and taking action where required. Corrs partner and CEO John W.H. Denton AO is a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador, committed to ensuring both women and men are paid fairly for the work they perform.
  • Working collectively with many of Australia's major law firms as part of the Managing Partners' Gender Diversity Initiative, to determine ways that their firms (individually and collectively) can contribute to improving gender diversity across the legal profession.
  • A dedicated Diversity Manager to drive and implement initiatives.

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