Leadership, not lip-service, is key to gender balance

There was a great blog in Harvard Business Review last month about what it takes to create and maintain gender diversity in law firms. We all know the statistics—the intake for law firms at graduate level is now 60 per cent female but two years in and women start leaving firms—the blog also has a great graph to illustrate this.

The blog focuses on a French firm where the gender division is 50/50 and puts it down to the leadership of Gianmarco Monsellato, the head of TAJ which is currently the fifth-largest firm in France.

Monsellato tackled the diversity issue personally by allocating cases to women, sitting in on every promotion discussion and talking to clients when they had an issue with their matter being re-assigned to a woman.

His tale is a refreshing read—his approach was practical, rather than launching (yet another) diversity program or mentoring initiative he just made gender diversity happen. Or as he refers to it ‘gender balance’—reminding women that they are not a minority.

It makes me think that it’s easy to see which leaders take gender balance seriously and which leaders give it lip-service. I talk with leaders all the time that wring their hands about the lack of gender balance in their organisation, but it’s also clear that they don’t see it as their personal responsibility to make the changes necessary.

Georgie Dent at Women’s Agenda wrote a piece on this earlier in the year about the arrival of Bob Joss from America to head up Westpac. On noting the lack of women in the joint he started asking his executives to hire women. A simple and refreshing approach that spoke of him taking personal responsibility for the issue.

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Image by By jesadaphorn, courtesy of freedigital.com



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