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Gender Equality Charter

15 December 2017

Read a summary of consultation feedback on the draft Gender Equality Charter.

A Gender Equality Charter has been developed for the legal profession.

The charter is an initiative of the Law Society’s Women’s Advisory Panel that was set up to look at ways to support the retention and advancement of women in the legal profession.

“Gender diversity is critical to the success and sustainability of the legal profession. I hope the charter will help accelerate the progress of women to leadership positions in law,” says chair of the Women’s Advisory Panel, Chris Moore.

In recent years women have made up close to 70% of law graduates from universities, and almost 50% of those holding practising certificates. Yet women make up less than 30% of those who are partners or directors in law firms.

“We need to see greater progress in terms of the advancement of women to the higher ranks of the legal profession. The charter is about the profession committing to concerted action to address this visible and longstanding problem,” says New Zealand Law Society president, Kathryn Beck.

“The culture across the legal profession needs to move forward if we are to retain our many women practitioners. We believe these are the right areas to target in addressing this vital issue,” Ms Beck says.

The ‘Gender Equality Charter’ is voluntary but requires law firms and in-house teams that sign up to the charter to make a number of commitments, including providing information and data to the Law Society. The Law Society plans to publish a report every two years on the overall progress of the profession in improving gender diversity and inclusion. The report will contain aggregate level information and data and individual firms/organisations will not be identified. The only exception to this is where consent has been given for case studies describing practical action taken to improve gender diversity and inclusion.

The Law Society is also developing free tools and resources that will be made available online to assist charter signatories to meet their commitments.

While this charter focuses specifically on gender diversity and inclusion, several of the charter commitments, e.g., on unconscious bias, are also relevant to other aspects of diversity. The charter is only one part of the Law Society’s broader programme of work on diversity in the legal profession. The charter will evolve over time to also include other aspects of diversity such as ethnic and cultural diversity.

For more information, download the draft charter or email womeninlaw@lawsociety.org.nz

Last updated on the 15th December 2017