Mayer Brown and Women in Law Hong Kong team up to examine gender bias in legal industry

The 'Everyday Behaviour Project' will involve an anonymous survey

Mayer Brown and Women in Law Hong Kong team up to examine gender bias in legal industry

In recognition of International Women's Day, global law firm Mayer Brown teamed up with Women In Law Hong Kong to launch a joint project that will explore gender biases in Hong Kong's legal industry.

The "Everyday Behaviour Project" will involve an anonymous survey to collect data on the everyday experiences of women in the Hong Kong legal sector. The objective of the project is to examine the behaviours that women face, including gender biases and micro-aggressions – the everyday, subtle, often unintentional comments and interactions that may contribute to gender inequality.

Results will be announced later in the year and will aim to shine a light on whether everyday behaviour is adversely affecting women's careers in the Hong Kong legal industry.

Spearheaded by two Mayer Brown partners, Susanne Harris and Amita Haylock, this project is one of a number of initiatives being undertaken globally by the firm to build a diverse workforce and inclusive culture.

"We are proud to partner with WILHK on this important project that offers an opportunity to gather data and raise awareness about the impact of everyday behaviour on the retention and promotion of women in the law,” said Harris, a partner at Mayer Brown's litigation and dispute resolution practice and co-chair of the firm's Asia women's network, Retain and Advance Women.

“The 'leaky pipeline' issue in the legal profession is well known,” she added. “For many years, the vast majority of junior solicitors in Hong Kong are women but only 30 percent or less become partners. We see binary data on gender disparity issues in the Hong Kong legal profession, but going beyond this to examine more nuanced, everyday behaviours will offer a new perspective."

Haylock, who is a partner in Mayer Brown's IP & TMT group and the other co-chair of the Asia women's network, added: "Embracing diversity also means ensuring women in the legal sector have the right opportunities, support and resources to thrive. We hope that this survey will offer an insight into the barriers faced by women and ultimately facilitate greater gender equality in the legal profession.”

The survey will also mark the launch of Mayer Brown's ‘Break the Barriers’ campaign in Asia in conjunction with the firm’s global diversity month. A series of online discussions will take place throughout March on diversity and inclusivity in the legal profession in Asia.

Brooke Holden and Alison Tsai, co-chairs of WILHK said, "We strongly believe diversity and inclusion are critical to acquisition, development and retention of female talent in the Hong Kong legal industry. Focused around this year's IWD #BreakTheBias theme, we are enthusiastic about using this joint survey to shine a light on the importance of an inclusive workplace on advancing women’s career progression, and believe the project will support WILHK in driving meaningful change towards the quest for gender equality in the Hong Kong legal profession."

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