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Changing workplace culture

In my last article, I wrote about the impact of the Respect@Work bill. This partly outlined to firms the shift in obligations on all employers to stamp out, among other things, sexual harassment in the workplace.

As many know, the Queensland Law Society has developed a bespoke sexual harassment workshop for legal practitioners in the Australian system.

In early 2023, we then sent a call out to the profession informing them we were ready, willing and able to come to their place of business to deliver the workshop. It was hoped we would get a couple of firms engage with us so we could get this conversation started with more practitioners and all of the support staff that make our sector function.

We were simply overwhelmed by the response and wanted to share with you some of the data we collected over the course of the last 12 months.

We:

  • Held 17 Open Queensland Law Society workshops;
  • Delivered 37 in-house workshops at 26 different law firms; and
  • More than 1400 people attended the workshops across Queensland.

To be honest with you all, I expected three to four registrations a quarter when we sent this call out to the profession. Instead, we delivered more than one workshop a week on average.  It was thought this would supplement our existing in-house workshops.

As you can see by the data, I was wrong. I am happy to see my expectations subverted in such a positive way.  We listed more than double of the internal workshops (hosted here at the QLS) than 2022 and we were at capacity for a majority of them.

Navigating workplace dynamics can be challenging, but firms of all sizes are embracing the tools required to foster positive shifts.

When approached with a genuine engagement, these workshops become a catalyst for change. What is often a set of unspoken rules (or as we define it ‘conforming culture’) becomes open for discussion.

This allows all levels of seniority to engage in a rooted, respectful conversation around understanding the behaviour and holding people accountable for their actions.

We have seen positive transformation occur in real time by creating environments of empathy and understanding.

We are confident firms of all shapes and sizes can work towards eradicating sexual harassment in their workplaces and ensuring everyone feels respected and valued.

Though the path ahead remains challenging, the enduring benefits for both the employee and employer make this vital and uplifting work.

We look forward to attending firms this year where we’ll be introducing the workshop Being an Active Bystander.

The new workshop expands on behaviours of the bystander and explores how to intervene in a constructive way. This workshop will cover how to deal with instances of discrimination and bullying.

This workshop will encourage attendees to think about ways we can adjust our behaviour while we maintain our professional relationships with colleagues. This is designed to encourage ways of having challenging conversations and how employees at all levels can frame the discussion when they speak up about inappropriate conduct.

You can find all of our PD events, including the CWC workshops here. You can also contact us directly to have us come out to you.

Find out more about the QLS Changing Workplace Culture – Sexual Harassment workshop and QLS training to assist firms in meeting the new obligations by contacting QLSLPD@qls.com.au.

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