Cooper Grace Ward is recognised in the legal and broader business community for not only being a high quality legal practice but also for our strong team culture, which is supported by innovative equity and diversity initiatives.
Providing a supportive work environment is one of the cornerstones of how we operate, and we are proud that our achievements have been recognised externally – we have been awarded Queensland Law Society’s 2013 Equity and Diversity Award and achieved accreditation as an Aon Hewitt Best Employer in 2013.
We aim to create a culture where all team members, irrespective of background or attributes, are treated with respect and honesty whilst contributing to the team. This culture readily supports the principles of equal employment opportunity across gender, ability, race, ethnicity and socio-economic background, as well as other differences including work styles, education, family, sporting or study responsibilities. We apply these principles not only when interacting with current and potential team members, but also when dealing with any stakeholder who interacts with our firm.
Our approach is not about paying lip service to our obligations as employers; we recognise that flexible, progressive and inclusive people policies are essential to attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent, as well as engaging the highest quality counsel, solicitor advocates and other consultants. At the same time, our team provides commercial and technical solutions to an increasingly diverse and discerning client base. That’s why integrating equity and diversity into our people and business strategies is crucial to the success of our firm.
Equity and diversity initiatives at Cooper Grace Ward include:
- an active diversity committee
- targets for female representation at partner and board level
- equal opportunity briefing policy for engaging professional and other services from outside sources
- periodically reporting on the nature and rate of engagement of female counsel
- active participation in the Diversity Council Australia and its legal industry sub-chapter
- flexible paid parental leave program and support for team members with care responsibilities
- quarterly employment ads placed in local ethnic newspapers
- pro bono support for indigenous arts scholarship Thancoupie’s Bursary Fund
- assistance and support for team members transitioning to retirement
- strong take up of flexible work arrangements
- support for those with disabilities
- multicultural firm-wide events, such as ‘A Taste of Harmony’ day
- support and education around mental health including two mental health first aid officers
- domestic violence awareness initiatives.
Women at Cooper Grace Ward
Nearly three quarters of our team members are women and hold some of the most senior roles at Cooper Grace Ward, including equity partner, workgroup leader, chief operating officer, special counsel, senior associate and department head.
As part of our Equal Opportunity Briefing Policy, in selecting counsel, all reasonable endeavours are made to: identify female counsel in the relevant practice area; genuinely consider engaging such counsel; regularly monitor and review the engagement of female counsel; periodically reporting on the nature and rate of engagement of female counsel. Nonetheless, in making the selection decision, Cooper Grace Ward will refer clients to other providers and counsel on the basis of skills, merit and suitability for the client’s needs and at all times this will be done with a focus on the best person(s) for the client’s needs irrespective of gender, race or any other factor.
Our achievements in terms of gender diversity have earned us Employer of Choice for Women citations by the Equal Opportunity for Women Agency (now Workplace Gender Equality Agency) each year since 2009 and we have also been accredited since 2009 as a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace by the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
We understand that in our society, it is usually women who have the additional responsibilities associated with children and older family members, however we recognise that anyone may take on this responsibility, irrespective of gender, and may require flexible arrangements to help manage their personal and work lives.
Cooper Grace Ward has specifically supported a number of female focused charity initiatives, such as the Mothers’ Day Classic Fun Run, International Women’s Day and Suited to Success.