Press Release: DLA Piper New Zealand launches Leadership Alliance for Women

DLA Piper New Zealand launches Leadership Alliance for Women

DLA Piper New Zealand, New Zealand’s first global business law firm, is leading a drive to fill the vacuum of women in leadership positions with the New Zealand launch this week of its Leadership Alliance for Women (LAW).

First established in 2006 by DLA Piper in the United States, LAW is built on three fundamental platforms: mentoring, skill development and networking. It aims to provide current and future leaders with a platform to build valuable business connections, develop client relationships and strengthen leadership skills for future success.

“It is no secret that women are under-represented in leadership positions across sectors in New Zealand,” says Tracey Cross, Chair of the New Zealand LAW Committee and DLA Piper New Zealand Partner.

“The programme is about supporting and mentoring our future women leaders, learning from current leaders and collaborating for mutual success. We need to create a dialogue with the broader New Zealand business and legal communities on issues relating to women in the workforce.”

While gender imbalance is still occurring in the world of law, the proportion of women going through law school now dominates males and, in turn, female in-house lawyers are increasingly outnumbering their male counterparts.

“The challenge is that women face unique and complex obstacles to reaching their full potential, ranging from the perception that taking parental leave rules out career progression through to not knowing how to sell their skills,” says Cross.

“We need self-advocacy and collaboration to get women focused on leadership from early in their careers, to work on these obstacles and support each other and importantly, we all need to be champions of diversity.”

Cross says the effectiveness of supporting and mentoring women at DLA Piper New Zealand is reflected in the fact that 50% of the firm’s management are now female, and the proportion of female lawyers on the Board has climbed to 25%. 63% of senior associates and special counsel are women.

The LAW initiative was launched at a major event in Auckland on 19 March. The event featured a panel discussion facilitated by Fran O’Sullivan, Executive Editor – Business Reports, NZ Herald, with guest speakers including Federation of Maori Authorities chair Traci Houpapa, Mighty River Power General Counsel Karen Clayton and Westpac chief executive David McLean.

“This is not a gender debate,” says Cross. “It is about connecting, being inspired by our outstanding panel of senior leaders, asking them to share their stories of how they got to where they are today, the obstacles they overcame and the key lessons they learnt along the way.”

LAW is now a global programme with events hosted regularly in major cities around the world, including in Australia since 2014. Last night’s LAW launch in New Zealand coincided with a LAW event in Brisbane, facilitated by ABC current affairs journalist Bev O’Connor, with panellists Helen Conway, Former Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Carolyn Viney, CEO, Grocon Group and Claire Bibby, Senior Vice President Legal, Brookfield Office Properties.