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LIV launches Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession

LIV launches Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession

By LIV Media

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The Law Institute of Victoria continues to take important steps in addressing gender inequality today as it launches the Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession.

The Charter is open to all firms, employers and institutions across the profession and within the Victorian justice sector to sign.

The LIV has adopted NSW Law Society’s Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession that has more than 300 signatories to date.

The Charter promotes and supports strategies to retain women from all backgrounds in the profession over the course of their careers and provides practical guidance on steps that firms can take.

One of those barriers is the persistence of sexual harassment in the profession.

In March this year, Dr Helen Szoke published her Review of Sexual Harassment in Victorian Courts, which found that harassment is an ‘open secret’ in the Victorian legal profession.

This follows the Respect@Work report led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, which showed a third of Australians had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years.

LIV president Tania Wolff said that the Charter is a demonstration of the LIV’s commitment to advancing women in the legal profession and providing avenues for members to articulate and demonstrate that support.

“If we are to maintain the trust and confidence of the community and remain relevant, the legal profession must reflect the community it serves,” Ms Wolff said.

“Key to that being achieved is for legal practices and workplaces around the state, and country, to be fair, inclusive and safe.”

Alongside the Charter, the LIV is also making available to members a Sexual Harassment Framework  Policy and Model Template, to assist those  law firms that do not already have a policy in place.

The LIV Model Policy calls for zero tolerance towards sexual harassment and seeks to educate the profession and support vulnerable employees with avenues to address complaints.

“In the past 12 months, the spotlight has been shone on behaviours and attitudes that persist in our profession and must be stamped out. The Charter and Model Policy take us on important and significant steps to ensuring that our workplaces attract, support and retain lawyers from across our diverse community,” Ms Wolff said.

LIV CEO Adam Awty also welcomed the introduction of the Charter and urged all members to become a signatory and to adopt the LIV Model Policy.

“I work for a profession that struggles to keep women in it, let alone advance to leadership positions. We continue to hear of sexual harassment and discrimination in the profession and we keep talking about the need to do better,” Mr Awty said.

“It’s time for all, but particularly men, to accept that regardless of gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation, a diverse profession is a richer profession. This issue is not for women to solve on their own. We must ensure women in the profession have a voice, and then listen. It’s time to challenge our personal, professional and organisational norms, to speak up and take action.”

“I urge all members to consider adopting the LIV Model Policy if they don’t already have one, and adapting it to their own firm. I also urge firms and employers to become signatories to the Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession because without gender equality we won’t have workplaces free of sexual harassment. One drives the other.”

The LIV remains committed to providing the legal profession with the tools and resources necessary to address inequality and stamp out sexual harassment.

Law firms and other members of the legal profession can access the Model Policy and Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession via the LIV website.


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