Over the last two years, half of Gowling WLG’s senior promotions were women.
The update came as the firm announced that its partnership is now 20.5% female, up from 18% in 2016, when the firm set a target of having 25% of the partnership be female by 2021 and 30% female by 2030.
Gowling WLG was established in February of 2016 by the merger of Canada’s Gowlings and the UK’s Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co. By 2017, the firm instituted a three-year plan called “Inclusion 2020.”
The program saw the implementation of gender targets for legal groups, board sponsorship and reverse mentoring for board members, female director mentoring, maternity coaching for senior-level staff, and a family leave bridging program that eased lawyers into returning to work after stepping away because of family responsibilities.
“Inclusion 2020 seeks to embed inclusive practices into our core business processes, such as recruitment, talent management, communications, reward and engagement with clients and suppliers. In addition to providing hands on support and engagement to women and minorities, we are scrutinising the way we work as an operation to ensure we are as inclusive as possible. Whilst we know we still have a long way to go, the first results from our three-year strategy are encouraging,” said Andrew Witts, Gowling WLG chairman and the firm’s diversity and inclusion champion.
The firm’s inclusion program also led to the introduction of initiatives to promote diversity, including the introduction of a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working group. It also includes a mental health program.
“We know we have to innovate in our ways of working to drive lasting change. Our Family Leave Bridging arrangement is an example of this. We have recognised that returning from maternity, adoption or surrogacy leave or shared parental leave can be a time of big transitions and we have reduced the time recording targets for our lawyers in the weeks running up to the leave and immediately after the return to work. We hope that this sends a signal to our colleagues that we want to do our bit to assist with an important phase of family life,” said Lorna Gavin, the firm’s head of diversity, inclusion and corporate responsibility.
“The next steps for Inclusion 2020 are to ensure that we maintain the momentum we've gathered over the last year. Key focus areas for the coming year include sponsorship for women and BAME rising talent, work allocation pilots and inclusive leadership programs,” she said.
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