Cooper Grace Ward has launched a new initiative for LGBTIQ+ team members after a recent firm-wide survey found that 14% of team members identify as LGBTIQ+.
The support group meets every three months to discuss issues, offer support and act as a safe space for team members.
The LGBTIQ+ Support Group was the brainchild of private client partner, Scott Hay-Bartlem.
“Our recent diversity and inclusion survey showed that 14% of our team members identify as LGBTIQ+. This is a significant number and I believed there was an opportunity to provide an enhanced level of support to this group.”
Hay-Bartlem worked with the firm’s existing Diversity Committee to establish the group and provide an opportunity for team members to join. To date, 10 team members have joined the group.
“Another reason why I suggested the group is because there are very few ‘out’ role models in the legal industry and I want to demonstrate that the LGBTIQ+ community happily exist in corporate legal environments,” Mr Hay-Bartlem said.
Neil Baker, Director of People and Culture supports the newly established group as it sends a strong message to potential talent that the firm is inclusive and progressive.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure CGW is an inclusive environment for all team members. Giving greater support to team members who identify as LGBTIQ+ is a natural progression to build on the market recognition we have already attained for gender equality.”
“While progress has been made across Australian law firms, many LGBTIQ+ people still worry that revealing their sexuality at work will have negative consequences. Hiding who you are is a serious mental health issue and we want everyone to be their true self.”
“We hope that this support group will help our team members be who they want to be,” Mr Baker said.
The firm is particularly proud to welcome diverse talent through its doors.
“I’ve worked at CGW for almost 8 years and my experience has been nothing short of inspiring. I’m part of the LGBTIQ+ community and I’ve always found the firm to be accepting and welcoming, but knowing that we now have an active support group makes me feel proud,” said Craig Turvey a senior associate in the firm’s family law workgroup.
Fellow LGBTIQ+ Support Group team member and legal assistant, Dana Heriot, highlights how important such groups are:
“For me, CGW is a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to be yourself and talk about your weekend, social life, and who you’re dating. People tend to stay working at firms where it’s so open,” said Ms Heriot.
The support group are currently looking at ways to contribute to positive changes around the firm.
In addition, Cooper Grace Ward has recently been recognised as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for 2018/2019. The WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation is designed to encourage, recognise and promote active commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces.