Launch of the SLS Charter for the Advancement of Women

The Sabah Law Society (SLS) is rolling out Malaysia’s first Charter for the Advancement of Women in the legal profession as well as for any professions, which includes provisions encouraged at establishing fair and transparent sexual discrimination and harassment complaints processes.

Notwithstanding that in recent years, the percentage of women entering the legal profession has far outweighed that of men, when a closer look is made at statics overall, men still outnumber women and especially so the longer the number of years of practice.

SLS has conducted an informal survey of this phenomenon and identified some of the reasons for this to be that the legal profession is still very much male dominated, bringing with it a very male culture, as well as the inability of the procession to truly accommodate women in the profession to enable a balancing of expectations, family and work for women.

SLS is committed to addressing this trend and enacted the fully voluntary Charter for the Advancement of Women in the legal profession as one of its first initiatives to ensure women who choose to be in the profession are given a real and not merely an illusory option to remain, contribute and thrive in the legal profession.

The charter, is designed to promote and support strategies to retain women from all backgrounds in the procession over the course of their careers, including women with disability, and encourage and promote their career progression into senior executive and management positions.

The Charter aims to achieve this by assisting the legal profession to develop cultures which promote diversity and inclusion, prevent sexual harassment and bullying and impact positively on all practitioners in their place of work, resulting in better business outcomes for the legal profession and the community as a while.

Law firms can sign up to the charter and in sighing on to the charter, signatories commit to demonstrating leadership by removing gender bias and discrimination in the legal workplace; driving change in the legal profession by developing a culture that supports the retention and promotion of women from all backgrounds; implementing recruitment and promotion strategies that include gender diversity and gender play equity as important considerations and promoting mentoring and sponsorship of women in the legal profession.

Further, signatories commit to encouraging and facilitating flexible work practices to support a better balance of professional and other commitments; ensuring that sexual harassment, or any form of bullying in the workplace, is not tolerated, establishing procedurally fair, safe, accessible and transparent sexual discrimination and harassment complaints processes; and, establishing training to protect complainants from victimization, encouraging bystanders and others to report and “call out” offensive and intimidating behaviour.

The Charter is also part of SLS ongoing work to address sexual harassment in the legal workplace and drive positive change through its policy work, advocacy and regulatory functions.


Datin Mary Gomez, Chairperson of the SLS Women and Children’s Rights Sub-Committee and Roger Chin, President, Sabah Law Association





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