b"PEOPLE| LEGAL SECTOR| 2021SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTGENDER EQUALITYNational ContextThe global Index from the World Economic Forum ranks nations based the gender equality of their economies, education, health and power. In the last 15 years Australia has slipped 29 places to be ranked 44th of the 153 countries surveyed. This includes a drop of five places in the last two years. Contrasting this performance with other indicators of social and economic progress indicates that women are not sharing equally in our prosperity and still do not enjoy the same resources, opportunities, rewards or security as men.COVID ImpactsAddressing gender equality requires approaches to deal with longer term systemic issues but also the agility to respond to short term issues. COVID-19 has changed work practices and conditions for large sections of the workforce in ways that have further magnified historical inequalities and risks. Anecdotally, most law firms have not experienced a loss of work as a result of the COVID pandemic and many have become significantly busier. Increased work demand creates greater pressures for women who carry a disproportionate share of unpaid care-related work and the accompanying stresses. The impact is amplified as they are forced to combine the challenges of working from home and the supervision of children while childcare and schooling are unavailable due to the implementation of numerous lockdowns.COVID-related job losses and reduced hours of work have been highest in many female-dominated sectors including accommodation, community and personal services, administrative and support services, childcare and hospitality. In law firms, the response to the COVID pandemic saw many law firms prepare for an uncertain future by reducing their workforce in administrative and management roles, and their contracting staff. Legal ContextUnderstanding the gender mix and pay gaps in law firms is important and needs to be interpreted in the context of longer-term trends. The fifth National Profile of Solicitors Report shows an increase in the number of young female lawyers is continuing but so is the proportion of older male lawyers. Female lawyers make up two-thirds of those who have entered the profession since 2011 increasing the total proportion of female lawyers from 46 per cent to 53 per cent during this time. This has created a bubble of younger female lawyers with 41 per cent aged below 34 years compared to just 28 per cent of men. During the same period the number solicitors working past 65 years of age has increased 59 per cent to seven per cent of the profession. Thirteen per cent of lawyers aged over 65 years are male compared with just two percent of female lawyers. This suggests women are leaving law firms earlier in life.An Australian Financial Review partnership survey conducted since the 2018 National Profile,found that two-thirds of the 128 new partners appointed at the nations larger law firms were women. Benefits of Gender Equality Improving gender equality boosts the productivity and performance of organisations and the economy by helping to build stronger societies, economies, businesses and individuals. Research released in June 2020 by the Bankwest Curtin Economics FORMAL POLICY POLICY PUBLISHED INITIATIVESInternational Women's DayEmployer of Choice forGender EquityPay Equity AmbassadorMale Champions of ChangePOLICY Board Links ChampionLaw Council Diversity &Inclusion CharterCommBar EquitableBrie\x1fng CharterHosting or leading externalprograms and/or forumsPUBLISHED Structured female advancement,mentoring and coaching Training - Gender awarenessunconscious bias and inclusionGender sensitive promotionand recruitment initiativesConvene internal networksor committees0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%Yes 95% No 5% Yes 79% No 21% Percentage of firmsAverage number of initiatives per firm: 722"