Clifford Chance dismisses Australia partner following serious misconduct allegations

High-profile consultancy called in to help firm improve workplace culture

Clifford Chance’s (CC’s) Australia arm has hired a high-profile consultancy firm to help it improve its workplace culture after the dismissal of a partner following allegations of serious misconduct.

The engagement of Elizabeth Broderick & Co, which is run by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, follows the conclusion of an internal investigation which led to the partner’s “termination from the firm”, according to CC.

The UK Magic Circle firm said the partner – part of the Perth team – had been “immediately suspended” after “complaints of serious misconduct” had sparked the investigation.

Global managing partner Charles Adams said: “We deeply regret what happened and that our colleagues were affected. We’ve offered and continue to make available our full support to these colleagues.

“I want to thank them for speaking up and to reassure everyone at the firm of our commitment to a workplace where they are respected, and where misconduct of any kind is completely unacceptable, and will be robustly addressed.”

Connie Heng, CC’s regional managing partner for Asia Pacific, added: “We recognise the gravity of the situation and are fully committed to learning from this experience and promoting a working environment where everyone is safe and respected, and where misconduct of any kind is called out.”

Heng went on to note that Elizabeth Broderick & Co provided “high-level strategic analysis, assessment, advice and planning to organisations wishing to strengthen their workplace culture”.

The consultancy hit the headlines last July when its review of EY Oceania’s workplace culture was published which had been sparked by the death of a 33-year-old EY employee at its Sydney office.

EY described the review as “the most comprehensive examination of workplace culture ever undertaken in the Australian professional services industry”.

“Despite initiatives to advance a safe, inclusive and respectful culture, in the last five years 15% of people have experienced bullying, 10% indicated they had experienced sexual harassment, and 8% of people experienced racism,” it said. 

EY accepted all 27 of the report’s recommendations.

In 2021, the Law Society of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia launched a platform to tackle sexual harassment in the legal workplace following controversy generated by two separate sets of allegations of sexual harassment against Australian judges that heightened awareness of the problem within the legal profession.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]