Proctor : September 2018
6 PROCTOR | September 2018 Never a bystander Focusing on clients, colleagues and the community For this month’s interview, I spoke with McCullough Robertson Chairman of Partners Dominic McGann. I have previously written and spoken to QLS members regarding workplace culture in our profession and the role of leaders to ensure we have equitable and healthy workplaces. Far too many practitioners leave the profession within five years of commencing and the research is clear that, in part, it is workplace culture – particularly relationships and workplaces not consistently living up to the ideals they promote – that is a causal factor in the high turnover rates. You may have heard of the movement called Australian Male Champions of Change, a national organisation of cross-industry CEOs committed to gender equality and organisational cultural health. Queensland has its own branch and Dominic is the only solicitor member of the Queensland Male Champions of Change (QMCC), a group of a dozen male, cross-industry Queensland CEOs. Dominic, please tell us more about the QMCC and its purpose? The QMCC is a group based on the national Male Champions of Change, with the male champions being advocates for change for women, and equity and diversity. The Queensland branch has a broad cross- section of members coming from senior government and commercial roles across a variety of industries. There are about 12 members who get together to share ideas and test them within their own firms. For each champion they have an internal agency lead to assist the implementation of change strategies in their own organisations. At McCullough Robertson that agency lead is HR Director Louise Ferris. You are the only legal practitioner in the group; how did you get involved? The group was keen to get a lawyer on board, given that they were aware of the challenges that existed in the legal sector. I had a clear interest in equity and equality, and thought this would be an area that I could contribute to, learn from, and to send a signal to my own firm, on our commitment to gender issues and diversity more broadly. I have been involved for four years and we meet three times a year. We have specific challenges in the legal sector, which we can learn to improve by engaging with leaders in other industries and how they look to deal with gender issues themselves. We have learned, in particular, that we need to manage the employment relationship carefully with people, particularly those going on parental leave, to ensure that we lean in without leaning on. What does the group stand for? The QMCC stands for leadership of female equality and has a strong focus on the alleviation of domestic and family violence – dealing both with victims and perpetrators and the interplay between domestic and family violence in the employment relationship. The leaders are serious about cultural change and equity, and are committed to creating positive change within their own sphere of influence – normally meaning their own firm and their own industry sector. In law, 60% to 70% of staff are female. Issues for careers for women in law are quite different to many other industries. We have learned that in law the challenges are quite unique. How do you approach these unique issues at your firm? We started to address career issues for women by ensuring that we have four clear conversations about their careers. The first is to ensure that women have had conversations with their life-partner or family and have clarified in their own mind what it is they want to do in their career. The next conversation to have with the firm is to be clear around what is available, what the possibilities are, and what their ambitions are. The third conversation is the collaboration, or what we call co-opetition (a combination of cooperation and competition), with the profession to work together to create change to advance the career prospects for women. The fourth conversation that we need to have is within the community more broadly, and Dominic McGann with Walking Tracks, an artwork by Indigenous artist Thelma Hobson, who is well known in the Lockhart River area. McCullough Robertson commissioned the work, which is on display in the firm’s reception area. The inspiration is Thelma’s passion to produce works that speak of her individual identity, culture, land and community.