WGEA Gender Pay Gap Reporting: JWS Employer Statement – February 2024

The concept of balance, represented by geometric shapes on gradient colourful background. Neon colours: purple, pink and blue.

JWS welcomes the introduction of WGEA’s public reporting of gender pay gap information for organisations with 100+ employees. We hope the transparency generated through public reporting will see a reduction in the gender pay gaps across Australian organisations.

Overall approach to gender equality

JWS is committed to gender equality. Gender is key to our Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. 

We know that women in the legal industry can encounter barriers in the workplace, including a lack of senior role models and supportive and inclusive decision-makers.  To address these issues, JWS ensures appropriate support through our path to partnership program, flexible working arrangements and mentoring and sponsorship programs.

Through these and other initiatives, such as our Gender Equality Network, we are pleased with a significant increase in the number of women in our partnership – over the last four years, female partner representation has grown from 17 per cent in 2020 to 33 per cent in 2024. 

Our gender pay gap

JWS has experienced significant growth in the last 10 years.  When we started reporting to WGEA in 2014, the total workforce of JWS was only 219. With our workforce now at 433 people, we have ensured that such growth is supported by a range of tools to ensure gender pay equity.  This includes consistently assessing the roles across our firm and the salary bands they fit within, reviewing remuneration bands upon hire, and annually across the firm.  We use both internal and external guidance to ensure these meet, or exceed, industry standards.

The median total remuneration gender pay gap for our legal industry comparison group is 22.9 per cent. 

We are pleased to report that JWS has a median total remuneration gender pay gap of 12.1 per cent - significantly lower than our industry comparison group.  This is also an improvement from our 2021-2022 gap of 18.5 per cent. 

JWS has a median base salary gender pay gap of 11.9 per cent, which is an improvement from our 2021 - 2022 gap of 18.7 per cent.  It is also 8.9 per cent lower than our industry comparison group average base salary gender pay gap of 20.8 per cent.  We acknowledge that our gender pay gap in both categories needs to continue to reduce.

In relation to gender composition by pay quartile, we are pleased to have 60 per cent women in the Upper Quartile – slightly higher than the industry average of 53 per cent females.  We believe this gender composition at the highest level of remuneration contributes to our improving gender pay gap. 

Drivers of our gender pay gap

We consider that our gender pay gap is influenced by the same factors affecting the legal industry as a whole – namely historic recruitment practices, the lack of support and senior role models.

Actions and strategies

JWS’ strategies for continuing to reduce our gender pay gap are as follows:

  • Gender pay gap audit: continuing to review, monitor, report on and address our gender pay gap. JWS uses Mercer reporting to set salary bands by role and state, which among other things, help to remove subjective factors that can contribute to a gender pay gap;
  • Targeted initiatives: enhancing the capability, engagement and retention of current and emerging women leaders.  This includes initiatives to increase the number of women in leadership roles at JWS.  We will continue to do this by:
    • Lawyer Career Support Action Plans developed for female talent to support, retain and progress;
    • ‘In Conversation Series’ with female partners focusing on topics of relevance to address systemic barriers to females advancing their careers; and
    • Refresh of our structured Mentor and Sponsor Program, which research[1] shows makes a significant difference to career progression and can happen more organically for men, therefore women benefit from a more structured approach.
  • Policy reviews: continuing to review and refine key people policies such as parental leave, including encouraging men to make use of this policy, as well as flexible work arrangements both on a permanent and part-time basis;
  • Continuing education in inclusive leadership: training our leaders in inclusive leadership practices to reduce unconscious bias and create a work environment that is free from gender-based discrimination;
  • Career coaching for parental leavers: continuing to coach & support our legal practitioners before, during and after their parental leave. This helps them to feel supported to focus on their new family, but also continue their career aspirations; and
  • Multiple levels of review of remuneration outcomes:
    following performance reviews, we will continue to have multiple levels of review and analysis of remuneration outcomes. This helps to ensure we have multiple opportunities to identify any gender equity gaps and take action, where appropriate.

[1] Gallup: Mentors and Sponsors Make the Difference by Kate Den Houter & Ellyn Maeseke the Difference’ by Kate Den Houter & Ellyn Maese.

Important Disclaimer: The material contained in this article is comment of a general nature only and is not and nor is it intended to be advice on any specific professional matter. In that the effectiveness or accuracy of any professional advice depends upon the particular circumstances of each case, neither the firm nor any individual author accepts any responsibility whatsoever for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of any articles. Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this publication, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation (Australia-wide except in Tasmania).