21 BACK TO NAVIGATION Effectively managing diversity and inclusion also assists law firms to: • Comply with applicable legislation and regulation • Align with increasing client diversity and expectations and • Sustain a changing professional profile to attract and retain a better and more responsive workforce. In May 2015 the Law Council of Australia established the Diversity and Equality Charter recognising that ‘treating all people with respect and dignity benefits the legal profession and the community as a whole’. All Australian State Law societies and Bar Associations have adopted the Charter and some provide additional resources and support to promote diversity in law firms and other organisations including NSW Law Society – Diversity and Equality Charter, Committee and resources and the Queensland Law Society - Annual Diversity Awards. Following the call from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s July 2016 ‘Leading for Change’ guidelines, eleven AusLSA members from the Managing Partners’ Diversity Forum signed a cultural diversity pledge embracing the guidelines and committing sharing ideas and gathering data on how to increase diversity in leadership. This year these firms followed through on their commitment by conducting an in-depth survey tracking cultural diversity data at partner and senior leadership levels; reviewing position descriptions and key competencies for senior leadership roles; and sharing experiences in relation to the effectiveness of programs such as unconscious bias training to overcome barriers to progress. The group will share information about the trends within their firms and with others in the group. 2018 AusLSA Member Performance The legal profession’s foundation of justice, integrity, equity, and the pursuit of excellence connect well with the values of diversity, equality, respect, and inclusion. In addition to a law firm’s management of diversity and inclusion, AusLSA also includes the specific issues of Gender Equality and LGBTI inclusion as well as related areas such as flexible working, indigenous reconciliation, psychological wellbeing in its framework. These areas provide additional insight into the commitments and performance in creating an environment that supports diversity And so it’s not surprising that ninety-seven percent of reporting law firms have specifically addressed their diversity values and commitments in a policy, with the remaining seven percent of firms having policies that partially cover the range of diversity issues surveyed. This year, however, less than half (forty-six percent) of these firms promoted their commitments by publishing their diversity policy through their websites or similar means. By increasing the promotion of their positions and commitment to diversity, firms can benefit from a greater level of stakeholder engagement and oversight. All reporting firms now have implemented formal governance structure to allocate responsibility for their policy and reporting progress. Fifty-five percent of firms allocated this accountability to one of the firm’s Partners, and sixty-eight percent established committees to assist with planning and delivery of actions across the firm. Only eleven AusLSA members are listed by the Law Council of Australia as having formally adopted their Diversity and Equality Charter in which law firms publicly commit to principles of diversity and equality. Challenges and Opportunities However, even as the cultural diversity of the Australian population increases, government, corporates, and law firms remain disproportionally represented by CEOs and Partners from Anglo-Celtic backgrounds. For example, the last Australian census showed that ten percent of Australians had an Asian background, but a 2015 survey by the Asian Australian Lawyers Association of six large firms and forty-four medium firms found that none had Asian Australian Partners, and where they were present they made up only three percent of Partners across all firms. Only twenty-five percent of legal firms in the 2016 Acritas Diversity study were rated as ‘very diverse’. While we can currently measure activity in diversity programs, ongoing progress in this space is needed to keep pace with the diversity that exists in the wider Australian community. The Diversity Council of Australia suggests in Building Inclusion: An Evidence-Based Model Of Inclusive Leadership that while the Australian workforce is very diverse by world standard the real challenge for workplaces and managers is to improve the inclusion of diverse individuals and groups. The Council provides a set of five key skills that are required to manage and lead an inclusive workplace. Australian Human Rights Commission Leading for Change guidelines identify three clear priorities that law firms should include in their strategies to generate changes in diversity: • Leadership and investment • Measuring and reporting • A culture of identifying and confronting biases.