One firm is giving women ‘more time’

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McCullough Robertson is helping women juggle their busy lives with the introduction of a concierge.
The service, available to women working on a demanding project for a fixed period, will assist women in managing various domestic duties.

“The concept is to give back time so what the concierges will do is provide assistance to do anything,” the firm’s HR director Louise Ferris told Australasian Lawyer.

Still in the trial phase, concierges have coordinated insurance claims and helped to plan a first birthday party.

“A big part of the problem is the perception among women that working sustainably at partner level is impossible,” she said.

“By helping our senior women manage the pressures associated with peak periods, we are creating positive role models for junior women.”

Ferris said the program is a key retention strategy and will help to stop younger women self-selecting.  Helping senior women to manage the busy peaks makes careers for women in the law much more sustainable.

“We’ll respond when life responds,” she said.

 “We are showing them first hand that, with the right support, working successfully and sustainably at the very top is an achievable goal.”

In just four months, Ferris said the pilot program has been an immense success.

“I am getting feedback from people saying, ‘this is making a difference’,” she said.
  • Linda on 12/09/2016 1:29:33 PM

    Whilst I think this is a great initiative, why are that the domestic duties still considered to be part of the woman's role? Annabel Crabb discusses this point in her book "The Wife Drought".

  • Mel on 12/09/2016 3:19:15 PM

    While I'm sure that people who have access to this concierge function are grateful for it, this article only highlights the issues for women who want to be active caregivers. Most mothers of a one year old I know (especially where it is their first child), have wanted to be involved in the preparations for their one year old's birthday party. Additionally, many have wanted to spend at least the first year at home with their babies. The fact that one of your partners with a one year old outsourced arrangement for her one year old's birthday party makes me sad. This example would not make me not self-select not to pursue partnership. There needs to be a more comprehensive review of what working in private practice means for all people with families, whether male or female.

  • Michelle on 15/09/2016 10:13:41 AM

    Why not have this initiative aimed at assisting all senior team members with managing domestic labour, instead of directing it solely at women and reinforcing the stereotype that this is 'women's work'. We can do better.

  • Enough judging! on 17/09/2016 5:32:13 PM

    Disappointing comment that it's "sad" a working mother outsourced birthday party planning. I would much prefer to spend time sitting on the floor zooming matchbox cars around with my son, or playing balloon tennis or colouring in with my son, than organising 24 mini bottles of water, chopping up for a fruit platter and making sure the custom made cupcake order will be ready as ordered. But that's not the issue. The comment above is a classic case of women judging each other. On one side, the barely hidden suggestion that working mothers are selfish or don't really love their children or are negligent parents; on the other side, the hints that stay at home mothers didn't have a career worth keeping, are lazy and unambitious or just lucky enough to have a high-earning husband whose salary doesn't need to be supplemented by the meagre contribution of which the wife is capable. Instead, think about the working mother who dreams of being able to fulfill her child's dreams of studying/training anywhere in the world or the stay at home mother who gave up a high salary to be present for her child in a way she felt she missed as a child. Women should be kind to one another, and realistic enough to know there are selfish people of all stripes, stay at home mothers and working mothers included. There are lazy people of all stripes. Congrats to McCullough Robertson for this innovative idea that recognises most women are still mainly responsible for domestic matters, and are finding a way to keep their best and brightest in their business. Well done!

  • Bridget on 18/09/2016 8:05:13 PM

    I think this is a brilliant initiative. At the end of the day, the world (not just law firms) places pressures on women, this is a program that benefits the firm, its good business sense. Not all jobs are for everyone and if you don't want partnership, don't take the pay day, it's about sacrifice, and choices. Perhaps a woman gives up having children for her career and no one thinks, maybe she feels margainalised because of her choice by her peers, society and her family for not having a child. It's not only women who don't achieve partnership who can feel resentment for the state of affairs- being a woman is about choice.

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