Sparke Helmore Lawyers' Six Degrees Network celebrated International Women's Day by inviting journalist, broadcaster and host of ABC's "The Drum", Julia Baird, to speak with an audience of almost 100 staff and clients from a variety of industries on Tuesday 6 March.
During Julia's wide-ranging and thought-provoking talk, she spoke about the media representation of women in politics and the different standards to which they are held. She said that women should not "apologise, should occupy their space and should forget about likeability. Women should just lead from wherever they stand."
At Sparke Helmore, we celebrated International Women Day with some real achievements from the past year, including the launch of our 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Strategy of which gender equality is a key priority. The Six Degrees Network was launched at the firm 10 years ago to encourage, motivate and facilitate connections for women. The Network provides opportunities for the firm's partners, employees and clients to help them and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, mentoring, education and knowledge sharing.
Kristina Miller, Partner and Patron of Six Degrees and a member of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee, spoke at the event about her optimism in the light of increasing social awareness about gender and diversity issues. "There is a focus and discussion on the issues of gender equality globally. With the current wave of social awareness, and progressive movements, mindsets are changing, the depth and quality of discussions are improving and gender equality is gaining traction, but there is still more to be done by all of us."
Areas on which the firm is focused are gender pay equity, ensuring our talent pipeline is visible to all leaders within the firm and using structured sponsorship and tailored development programs to better identify, equip, support and champion female talent.
The firm has 30% female representation in the partnership, with many practice groups having more than 40%. There is 30% representation of women on the firm's Board, Executive Committee and at Director levels. We are committed to further increasing female representation in senior leadership and decision-making teams.
The firm is planning to attain Employer of Choice status with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, and the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee is focused on implementing a range of policies and driving engagement on diversity and inclusion across the firm.
National Managing Partner, Phillip Salem, added his voice among the many male participants and gender champions at the event. "We have a strong, intentional diversity and inclusion agenda at Sparke Helmore. We are proud of the steps that we have taken to build a modern, diverse and inclusive law firm. We are also aware that our firm, and the legal profession as a whole, has much to improve on."
"Our vision is to be a market leading Australian professional services business that our clients choose for outstanding people, legal expertise and our ability to connect. The cornerstone of our Diversity & Inclusion Strategy is our understanding that diversity of thought delivers innovation and better business outcomes for our clients, our people and our firm. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is also part of our aspiration to be regarded as a leading employer in the markets in which we operate. A key component of achieving this commitment is that we ensure there is gender equality within our workplace."