The New Zealand Law Society says International Women’s Day is the perfect time for workplaces to show their commitment to equality and sign up to the Gender Equality Charter.
Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day. The theme is #BalanceforBetter – in other words, treating gender balance as a business issue, not a women’s issue.
The Law Society's Gender Equality Charter (Tūtohinga Ira Tangata Ōrite) is a set of commitments aimed at improving the retention and advancement of women lawyers. It was launched in April last year and so far 115 legal workplaces have adopted the initiative.
One of the key commitments of the Charter is to encourage and support flexible working arrangements so that all lawyers can balance their professional and personal responsibilities.
But as Law Society President Kathryn Beck says, flexible working conditions are not just an issue for women in law.
“We talk a lot about flexible working environments and most people assume it is solely aimed at women lawyers with children. But everyone is entitled to request flexible working arrangements. They don’t because of a perception that it will negatively impact on their career. That needs to change as legal workplaces that embrace flexible working conditions for all will have an advantage in attracting and retaining staff,” she says.
The Law Society has been pushing for 30% of legal work places to be signed up by the time the Charter is one year old in April.
So far over 20% of lawyers are covered by the Gender Equality Charter.
Other Charter commitments include tackling unconscious bias, closing the gender pay gap and promoting equitable briefing and instruction practices.
Signatories agree to meet all of these commitments over a two-year period and report on progress to the New Zealand Law Society. Free online tools and resources are available to assist charter signatories with their work.