Case Study - Supporting Female Talent
Arthur Cox is committed to creating a firm which is inclusive and diverse, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, mental health or any other of the unique characteristics that make up our people.
We recognise across the legal industry and professional services in general, there is a lower representation of women in senior positions than one would expect or wish to see. In order to attract and retain a talented and engaged workforce, we need to be seen as firm who values equality, inclusion and diversity.
Since 2008 our female partners have worked to create an environment which is supportive of female talent in the firm. This programme was further strengthened in 2014 by the appointment of two diversity partners, Grainne Hennessy and Geoff Moore. Under the guidance of Grainne and Geoff the firm has launched a number of initiatives that support our women throughout their careers with the firm. This includes one-to-one mentoring (available to both genders), networking lunches with female associates and female partners and regular seminars on topics that highlight and address potential blockers to progression for our female associates. We have partnered with the IMI, 30% Club Ireland and Rachel Hussey, Partner and Head of Business Development is on the steering committee, and MARC to run various training, external mentoring schemes and workshops to partners/associates. However, one of the most impactful areas we have chosen to focus on is our associates’ important life events, such as maternity leave.
With the age profile of our lawyers, it is essential that we support parents, and new parents in particular. We understand the challenges facing parents to balance their personal commitments with successful careers and that often these challenges are being managed in the main by women. We have tried to address these issues by offering progressive and forward-thinking policies and initiatives to our employees.
The firm offers 26 weeks paid maternity leave, which we also extend to adoption and surrogacy situations. We understand that all families are unique and have different needs when it comes to raising their children. This includes having the support, where possible, of both parents. We provide two weeks new parent (paternity) leave, fully paid, to all fathers/partners on the birth of their children. We offer shared parenting leave (SPL) to all employees in the firm. SPL allows flexibility for a second parent to take part of the paid maternity leave, allowing the primary maternity leave taker to return to work. SPL is available irrespective of whether or not the primary maternity leave taker is an Arthur Cox employee.
Arthur Cox was proud to be the first Irish law firm to introduce maternity coaching which ensures that maternity leave has a limited impact on associate career paths and work flows. This coaching includes individual one-to-one coaching sessions with an external senior coach prior to, during and after maternity leave as well as a session with the practice group leader to ensure everyone is handling all communications and the approach to maternity leave in a structured manner. More recently, we have launched a Parental Transition Coaching Webinar Programme. These webinars are open to all levels and grades across the firm. There are specific webinars available to women before, during and after maternity leave as well as webinars aimed at expectant fathers (or the non-primary leave taker) and new fathers.
On return to work after maternity leave, we encourage new mothers to work half days for the first fortnight while on full pay. This allows the new mother to settle her child into a new routine and get up to speed with her workload. In 2015, we launched a Childcare Sourcing Service, which provides advice and support to parents during their search for suitable childcare options.
We arrange seminars and training for parents. Examples included a Parenting course with Dr. John Sharry, Paediatric First Aid training and seminars on Juggling Parenting and Work, Sleep Matters, Living in a Digital World and Paternity Coaching for new Dads.
Since we introduced these initiatives and policies, the number of women associates having children has increased and the return rate after maternity is very strong. Five women associates have been promoted in recent years while pregnant or on maternity leave. We have also seen a steady increase in the number of female partners, with six of the last eleven promotions being women. Arthur Cox partners and management, male and female, are committed to continuing to deliver in the area of female talent.
Tuesday, 19 December 2017