Top firm bosses discuss cultural diversity

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Leaders of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Clayton Utz, and King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) recently came together to discuss and share their view of the cultural diversity landscape in the workplace.

In a panel titled “Off-script: cultural inclusion in the legal profession” this week in Sydney, ABC journalist Kumi Taguchi had a discussion with Andrew Pike, Rob Cutler, Berkeley Cox, and Dr Tim Soutphommasane, former race discrimination commissioner.

“To force a change, we need to embed structural changes into recruitment, career development and leadership programs to ensure diversity is present and will continue to flourish in our industry,” said Pike, HSF’s regional managing partner for Australia.

Cutler, who is Clayton Utz’ chief executive partner, explained why diversity is expected by clients.

“Our clients represent a diverse group of people across many sectors, and they expect the same from their legal advisers,” he said.

Cox, who is KWM chief executive partner, put the onus on industry leaders to spearhead change.

“It is incumbent upon us, given our roles, to improve equality for our people now and in the future,” he said.

The panel is a product of the Cultural Diversity and Leadership Fellowship, run by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the University Sydney Business School. HSF, Clayton Utz, and KWM were among the participants of the course, which was the first of its kind in Australia that focused specifically on the lack of cultural diversity in senior leadership of Australian organisations.

The three firms are also among the 11 members of the Managing Partners Diversity Forum, which was established in 2017 and launched the ambitious “Law Firm Cultural Survey” last year.