Harassment in the Legal Profession ( International Bar Association): FORWARD BY Julia Gillard AC

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The largest-ever survey on bullying and sexual harassment in the legal profession

Sexual harassment is also common, with: 1 in 3 female respondents and
1 in 14 male respondents having been sexually harassed in a work context.

Bullying is rife in legal workplaces, affecting: 1 in 2 female respondents and 1 in 3 male respondents



In the lead up to International Women’s Day this year, research company IPSOS Mori, in collaboration
with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, released the results of a
ground-breaking survey on global attitudes towards gender. People in 27 countries around the world were asked to nominate the top two or three issues facing women and girls in their nation. The most cited problem was sexual harassment, with sexual violence
coming second and physical violence third. The fifth most cited was domestic abuse. Seventeen nations
nominated one of these issues, which all go to different aspects of women being safe and having their
sexual autonomy respected, as the most pressing problem.


It is hard to read this data as anything other than a global cry for change, for a world in which women
and girls do not fear rape, beatings or predatory conduct at work. As the #MeToo movement has
shown, women are no longer prepared to be silent. The demands for deep-seated reform are insistent
and determined. After all this activity, the world cannot lapse back into shameful silence.
The legal profession has a special, indeed privileged role, in advocating for and ushering in change.
Around the world, it will be lawyers who are at the forefront of cases that test the efficacy of current
laws. When existing systems are found wanting, legal skills will be needed to better legislation and
improve courtroom procedures.

However, the legal profession can only step up to this role with integrity if it makes sure its own house
is in order. This is challenging in a hierarchical profession where the most senior practitioners still
tend to be disproportionately men and advancement is often as much about networks as measurable
merit. But it can and must be done.
I do not underestimate the size of the challenge, but you are not alone. Around the world, women
and men of goodwill are coming together – in this profession and others – to find the best ways
forward. At the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, we are determined to bring to the table the
best evidence about what works for gender equality in the legal profession, business, the news media,
technology and civil society.
This important report is a clarion call for urgent action. I urge you to absorb its facts and findings
and then make a difference.

Julia Gillard AC
27th Prime Minister of Australia
Chair, Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, King’s College London

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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