It’s the end of October 1993 and the New Zealand legal world is about to become the first in the southern hemisphere to launch an Equal Employment Opportunities kit.
Rather apprehensively, it appears, the official party is welcomed: Justice Robert Smellie, Justice Bruce Robertson, Peter Salmon QC (President of the Auckland District Law Society, to be appointed to the High Court bench in 1996), newly-appointed High Court Judge Dame Silvia Cartwright and the Acting Chief Justice of New South Wales Michael Kirby (on the NSW Court of Appeal at the time and to be appointed to the High Court of Australia in 1996). The kit was launched by Justice Kirby
In 1990 the Auckland District Law Society set up a committee to provide law firms with an equal employment opportunity programme. The committee decided that the best way to do this was to put together an EEO Kit which clearly set out the steps to be taken to put the programme in place.
Writing in a special Women in the Law issue of LawTalk (402, October 1993), Prue Crosson noted that while EEO programmes and kits were not all that unusual in the public and corporate sectors around the world, “law firms have been a little slow to recognise their importance as a management tool”. “Indeed,” she said, “in searching for examples of existing EEO kits in law firms, none could be found in the southern hemisphere”.
“Equal employment opportunity is about giving people of equal ability equal opportunity,” she said. “The designated groups of the kit are those who may suffer discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, marital status, age, disability, religious or ethical belief, sexual orientation and includes Asians, gay men, lesbians, Māori, other ethnic minorities, Pacific Island people, people with disabilities and women (in alphabetical order).”
“A highlight of the year was the launch of the Equal Employment Opportunities Kit which is a major oucome of the second report on women in the profession. The Kit addresses the position not only of women but of minority groups. It is a very practical tool which has so far been very well received. Council is also concerned at the imbalance of women and minorities in the Judiciary and is taking instructions in that regard,” said ADLS President Peter Salmon QC in his 1993 Christmas Message.