The initiative will provide a framework for male staff members at Russell Kennedy to become a MCC and actively promote and advocate for gender equality.
The theme of the launch event was Promoting the Pipeline, a concept attributed to Adam Fennessy. Adam spoke on a Workplace Gender Equality Panel at Russell Kennedy in June this year and discussed his work as the then Secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. One of his approaches to the appointment of women in positions of leadership was to promote women at all levels of the hierarchy to ensure a continual pipeline of talent.
Russell Kennedy helped to promote that pipeline by inviting male clients and guests to bring a female colleague or mentee to the launch who they wished to connect, develop and empower. Women were similarly asked to invite a male colleague or mentor who had supported or promoted them to connect, develop and be empowered.
Marika spoke openly about her initial reservations with the concept of men ‘championing’ women: “While I sometimes struggle to achieve clarity of my own views about these complex issues a few things for me are crystal clear.
First – anything we say about gender is a generalisation. There is no universal experience of gender. Not all statements about women and men apply to all women and all men.
Second - the focus is gender equality, for women and for men, in all aspects of their lives. Some initiatives, like women in leadership and MCC, necessarily focus on either women or men, but the goal is equality, levelling the playing field with shared access and opportunities.
Third – now, more than ever, the climate is ripe for change. The focus is on change. Male Champions of Change. If we don’t embrace change, in all its complexity, we will remain forever stuck in the status quo – and unable to progress towards genuine equality.”
Russell Kennedy has asked their MCC to make pledges in four areas consistent with the firm’s Gender Equality Strategy: flexibility, gender composition, gender pay equity and leader and manager capability.
At the launch event, Matthew Beazley, Co-Chair of the MCC with Marika, introduced the Russell Kennedy MCC representatives to the 140 guests in the room. The MCC discussed their pledges with the guests in an interesting question and answer session.
Russell Kennedy MCC and Managing Director, Paul Gleeson, is a Workplace Gender Equality Agency Pay Equity Ambassador. Paul explained his role to the guests in attendance:
“On behalf of Russell Kennedy Lawyers, I am a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador. Pay equity will assist the firm to attract a broader talent pool, reduce our turnover, improve engagement and productivity, and enhance our reputation as a great place to work.
I am pledging through MCC to demonstrate leadership in relation to gender pay equity within the legal profession and more broadly.”
Russell Kennedy is driving cultural change though it senior leaders by listening and talking to male and female champions, gender experts and Russell Kennedy staff members (both women and men) about gender equality, what it means and how it can be achieved.
The firm has taken significant steps over the past 18 months to progress gender equality, including the launch of a formal Flexible Workplace Practices Policy, gender pay gap analysis, Family Violence Leave Policy and Parental Leave Lunches for both female and male staff returning to work.
Related programs include gender equality discussions, diversity and inclusion programs, sessions aimed at enhancing resilience and well-being, networking skills workshops and women’s leadership forums.
Russell Kennedy is aiming to encourage and supports their own MCC and everyone considering similar initiatives. It is important to both recognise and act on the need for change by promoting a gender diverse talent pipeline, and supporting the retention and advancement of both women and men.