Helen Wang, Anthony McKenzie, James Noble


Offshore law firm Carey Olsen has implemented a range of initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion, with a particular focus on gender diversity. Partners at the firm shed light on these efforts, highlighting measurable outcomes, equitable advancement opportunities, and strategies to mitigate unconscious bias. They also talk about how the firm's proactive approach has not only fostered an inclusive environment but also paved the way for female lawyers to take on leadership roles and high-profile cases.


Can you describe the specific initiatives Carey Olsen has implemented to promote diversity and inclusion within the firm, particularly in relation to gender diversity?

Helen Wang: Carey Olsen is committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels included, and which actively supports and champions women in their career development whilst taking account of individual circumstances and experiences.

In line with this, we launched our Women's Network on International Women's Day last year. The Women's Network is an initiative that seeks to facilitate female collaboration across our global network, provide a platform for sharing accomplishments, experiences, and advice, and increase recognition and promotion of female leaders.

At the heart of the Women's Network is our mentoring programme, which pairs mentees with a female partner or other senior professional as their mentor.


What measurable outcomes have you observed from your diversity initiatives?

Anthony McKenzie: Since January 2022, 49 percent of our lawyers promoted to partner, counsel and senior associate have been women, and our total number of female partners has increased each year for the past five years. Whilst the overall number of female partners remains lower than male partners across the firm and the legal sector as a whole, we continue to play our part in creating an equitable environment by ensuring that all lawyers at the firm have the same opportunities for advancement.

Each year we also run a number of internships, bursary schemes and scholarships to provide local aspiring young lawyers with insight into life at an offshore law firm. Amongst these opportunities, students can take part in our articled clerk training programme in the Cayman Islands and our Investing in People Award in Bermuda. A number of our bursary students have joined us in full-time employment after finishing the programme and it's a real pleasure to see them progress into senior roles.


How does the firm ensure equitable opportunities for advancement for female lawyers, and could you provide examples of how women have been supported in their career growth at your firm?

Anthony McKenzie: Whilst promotion at Carey Olsen always has and always will be achieved on merit, we understand the challenges that have historically made it harder for talented women to progress to senior leadership. With this in mind, we have created opportunities for part-time employment and currently have two female partners based in our Channel Islands offices who, in being employed part-time, are more easily able to balance their careers with their other responsibilities and ambitions.

In Asia, we have an equal number of men and women lawyers in our Singapore office and in our Hong Kong office, 63 percent of our lawyers are women. Eight out of the nine counsel in our Asia offices are women, demonstrating our commitment to supporting female lawyers in taking up senior positions at the firm. One of our Singapore counsel was promoted whilst on extended maternity leave, a further testament to our aim to ensure all female lawyers have equitable opportunities for advancement at Carey Olsen.

Our mentorship programme allows women in the earlier stages of their career to speak regularly with senior colleagues at the firm who have navigated a career in law and can offer valuable advice and support based on their personal experiences. It has been hugely popular, with more than 140 colleagues taking part so far.


In what ways does the firm actively address unconscious bias in the workplace, and could you detail any training or programs that are in place to mitigate such biases?

Helen Wang: Earlier this year, our Women's Network held an Inclusive Behaviour Workshop led by the Inclusive Group's Sasha Scott and which was attended by over 250 employees across the firm.

The workshop explored how bias manifests in our working lives, prompting attendees to consider their own biases and actively discuss how we can adopt inclusive behaviours which create a more equitable working environment. It is through ongoing conversations like this that we begin to recognise how unconscious bias shapes the experiences of employees and can work to mitigate such biases in the workplace.


Could you share success stories or case studies where female lawyers at your firm have taken on leadership roles or high-profile cases, and how does the firm highlights these achievements both internally and externally?

James Noble: In her first year as partner, and being the only female partner in our office in Singapore, Helen Wang has achieved a huge amount. She has featured as the only offshore lawyer in Asia Legal Business' Asia 40 Under 40 List, the Offshore Client Choice List and Top 10 Offshore Litigators List, and starred in China Law Business Journal's A-List of elite private practice lawyers in the Chinese market.  

Additionally, Singapore counsel Amelia Tan was one of just three lawyers and the only offshore lawyer selected for the prestigious and highly competitive Singapore Leaders Network fellowship programme out of 60 Singaporeans. Singapore counsel Kate Lan was also the first offshore lawyer to be appointed as a member of the Young Singapore International Arbitration Centre (YSIAC) Asia-Pacific (APAC) Council.

Our first female managing partner, Jasmine Amaria, heads up our London office and has openly spoken about her journey to achieving partner status whilst balancing childcare duties during a Women's Network seminar and as a guest on fellow partner Huw Thomas' podcast. Not only does the Women's Network provide a platform for women in leadership roles at the firm to share their success stories, but also creates a space for us to help junior lawyers understand and navigate the challenges that come with success.