Employment Partner, Hunt & Hunt, Australia
Sarah Cappello, employment partner at Hunt & Hunt, Interlaw’s partner firm in Australia, talks about overcoming professional and personal challenges during 2020, and the opportunities for achieving greater equality in 2021.
“2020 was a year unlike any other in the challenges we faced on a professional and personal level. Early in the year, Australia was affected by the worst bush fires in living memory and then the ongoing global pandemic. This led to a redirection of my firm and a merger with Hunt & Hunt. Whilst perhaps a lesser challenge, I then had to redefine my role as a partner in a larger firm, whilst still adjusting to 'remote working' and folding my team in with the team at Hunt & Hunt.
“Although there were many times when the challenges appeared insurmountable, they were overcome by surrounding myself with the right support both at home and in the office. When likeminded people who share the same values and goals join forces, then the challenge that is faced turns into an opportunity, as is the case in this instance!”
Although 2020 was very challenging, Sarah believes that the experiences of having to work more flexibly throughout the pandemic should result in accelerating positive changes in the legal profession when it comes to gender equality:
“A move towards greater gender equality will occur when there is a greater acceptance of flexible working arrangements. As a full-time working mother of three beautiful children, the greatest challenge I face is meeting the demands of my role while at the same time adequately caring for my family. Although it is not the case that this role has to be assumed by women, traditionally it has been a mother's role to take on the physical and mental load. Society is (very) slowly moving towards an expectation for more equality at home and, in my opinion, the way to achieve this is to allow employees flexibility in the carriage of their duties.
“COVID-19 has taught us that we can very quickly adapt to the remote working environment and there ought to be greater consideration for flexibility between employers, employees and partners.”
Sarah firmly believes there is an opportunity to refocus on a more inclusive way of working: “I hope to take what we have learnt during the past 12 months and find new and better ways to work for the benefit of our clients, the firm, the staff and me.”