A joint initiative to understand the effects of everyday behavior on gender equality issues

In recognition of International Women's Day, Mayer Brown and Women In Law Hong Kong (WILHK) today announced the launch of a joint project that will explore gender biases in Hong Kong's legal industry.

The "Everyday Behavior 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 behaviors that women face, including gender biases and micro-aggressions: the everyday, subtle, often unintentional comments and interactions that may in aggregate contribute to gender inequality. Results will be announced later in the year and will aim to shine a light on whether everyday behavior 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 to build a diverse workforce and inclusive culture.

Susanne Harris, 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, said: "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 behavior on the retention and promotion of women in the law. The 'leaky pipeline' issue in the legal profession is well known. For many years, the vast majority of junior solicitors in Hong Kong are women but only 30 percent or less become partners1. We see binary data on gender disparity issues in the Hong Kong legal profession but going beyond this to examine more nuanced, everyday behaviors will offer a new perspective."

"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," Amita Haylock, partner of Mayer Brown's IP & TMT group and the other Co-chair of the Asia women's network, added.

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."

The survey will also mark the launch of Mayer Brown's "Break the Barriers" campaign in Asia in conjunction with their Global Diversity Month where a series of online discussions will take place throughout March on diversity and inclusivity in the legal profession in Asia.

"Break the Barriers" is at the core of Mayer Brown's Global Diversity Month in Asia this year. We want to increase awareness and build a diverse and inclusive workplace at all levels of our firm," said Hong Tran, Co-leader of Mayer Brown’s global Employment & Benefits practice and Chair of the firm's Diversity and Inclusion Committee in Asia. Areas of discussion will include International Day of Racial Discrimination 2022, inclusive workplaces for lesbian and bisexual women, and how to approach raising children without burdening them with stereotypes that lead to warped perspectives, particularly around gender roles and sex. "We believe that diversity and inclusion is a hallmark of good governance and are seeking to understand the barriers so we can take more effective action," said Hong.

About Women in Law Hong Kong

Women in Law Hong Kong (WILHK)is a non-profit society providing private practice lawyers, in house counsel and all other industry professionals a solutions-based approach to gender equity. WILHK is supported by many of Hong Kong’s leading firms and institutions and is one of the largest legal networks in Hong Kong. With over 1,500 members representing all genders, WILHK encourages a diverse exchange of ideas and collaboration.


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1 Law Society Membership Survey 2019